The Sikh Rehit Maryada states that wearing dastaar or Turban is required for Sikh males but that it is optional for Sikh females.  The Akhand Kirtani Jatha respectfully submits that dastaar should be a requirement for both males and females, believing that there should be no separate rehit between the two genders.

What makes the Akhand Kirtani Jatha unique among most panthic groups is its belief that keski (small dastaar), not kesh (uncut hair), is a kakaar.  The evidence for this belief is overwhelming based both on historical fact but also on common sense and basic logic.  

The removal of kesh is already considered by the panth as a whole to be a “bujjer kurahit” which means a very serious violation of the Sikh code of conduct.  Having kesh as a kakaar is redundant when the removal of kesh is already expressly forbidden.

Furthermore, all of the remaining kakaars are physical items that are given to a Sikh as gifts by Guru Gobind Singh Jee.  It defies common sense again that Guru Sahib would “gift” his Sikhs kesh upon taking Amrit when Kesh has been with a Sikh since their birth.

Just as wearing a turban is a requirement for a Sikh male, it is also a requirement for Sikh females.  The historical evidence is conclusive in this regard:

ਕੱਛ, ਕੜਾ, ਕਿ੍ਰਪਾਨ, ਕੰਘਾ, ਕੇਸਕੀ, ਇਹ ਪੰਜ ਕਕਾਰ ਰਹਿਤ ਧਰੇ ਸਿਖ ਸੋਇ ॥
“Kachhera, Karha, Kirpan, Kangha, Keski – Whoever keeps the discipline of wearing these 5Ks will be known as my Sikh.”
(Bhai Chaupa Singh Rehatnama)

ਜੋ ਪਗ ਨੂੰ ਬਾਸੀ ਰਖੇ ਸੋ ਤਨਖਾਹੀਆ। ਇਸ ਲਈ ਹਰ ਗੁਰੂ ਕੇ ਸਿੱਖ ਲਈ ਲਾਜ਼ਮੀ ਹੈ ਕਿ ਉਹ ਰੋਜ਼ ਦਸਤਾਰ ਸਜਾਵੇ।
“One who does not tie a fresh turban is liable for penalty. For this reason it is mandatory for every Sikh of the Guru to tie a turban everyday.”
(Rehitnama Bhai Chaupa Singh)

ਜੂੜਾ ਸੀਸ ਕੇ ਮੱਧ ਭਾਗ ਮੇਂ ਰਾਖੈ, ਔਰ ਪਾਗ ਬੜੀ ਬਾਂਧੇ ।
“Tie your hair-knot on the top of your head, and tie a turban.”
(Bhai Desa Singh Rehatnama)

੩੫. ਦਸਤਾਰ ਬਿਨਾਂ ਨਹੀਂ ਰਿਹਣਾ, ਕੇਸ ਨੰਗੇ ਨਹੀਂ ਰੱਖਣੇ ॥
“Do not stay without a turban, do not keep your hair uncovered.”
(Guru Gobind Singh Ji – 52 Hukams of the Tenth Master recorded by Baba Ram Koher Ji at Hazoor Sahib)

The most convincing evidence that Keski was given as a kakaar at the first Amrit sanchaar comes from the Guru Keeaan Sakheean. These are records from Bhatts, or poets who recorded events. This is the most authentic record of what happened. These Guru Keean Sakheean were published by Piara Singh Padam.

Some of the most convincing passages read like this: “Assigning the word Singh first to his own name and thence to the names of all the Five Chosen Sikhs, Guru ji called out Fateh (the victory salutation) and raised aloud the spirited chant of Sat Sri Akal.

“Thereafter, Guru ji pronounced, ‘on your rebirth in the Khalsa Panth, your previous lineage, caste, creed, calling, customs, beliefs and superstitions, etc. stand annulled from now onwards. Transforming you into the Order of Khalsa, I have endowed you with the apparel of the Almighty God, you shall have to keep its honour. Before administering this nectar of steel, I also bestowed you with five kakaars (Ks, i.e. defining emblems). You have never to keep them away from your body even by mistake. I gave you, at the start, a blue keski, kangha, kirpan, sarbloh ka kara and white kachhehra. In the event of the loss or misplacement of any of these, get its infringement pardoned in the Sangat by going to Gurdwara without any delay.”

Another account by a different bhatt in the same records reads: “Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji Tenth Guru, son of Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji, in the year Seventeen Hundred Fifty Two, on Tuesday – the Vaisakhi day – gave Khande-Ki-Pahul to Five Sikhs and surnamed them as Singhs. First Daya Ram Sopti, Khatri resident of Lahore stood up. Then Mohkam Chand Calico Printer of Dawarka; Sahib Chand Barber of Zafrabad city; Dharam Chand Jawanda Jat of Hastnapur; Himmat Chand Water Carrier of Jagannath stood up one after the other. All were dressed in blue and he himself also dressed the same way. Huqqah, Halaal, Hajaamat, Haraam, Tikka, Janeyu, Dhoti, were prohibited. Socialization with the descendants of Prithi chand (Meenay), followers of Dhirmal and Ram Rai, clean shaven people and Masands was prohibited. All were given Kangha, Karad (***Karad is synonomous with kirpaan***), KESGI, Kada and Kachhehra. All were made Keshadhari. Everyone’s place of birth was told to be Patna, of residence as Anandpur. Rest, Guru’s deeds are known only to the Satguru. Say Guru! Guru! Guru! Guru will help everywhere.”

Historically both Sikh men and women wore at least the short turban (Keski). Right up to the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, Sikh women had been steadfast in following the edicts of the Guru which included wearing the Dastaar. This was also witnessed by English observers in Punjab during this time. Well known 19th Century English Historian, J. D. Cunningham (1812-1851) who was an eyewitness to the First Anglo-Sikh War, in his History of the Sikhs – 1848 refers to Sikh women of that time as follows: “The Sikh women are distinguished from Hindus of their sex by some variety of dress, chiefly by a higher topknot of hair.” Higher topknot of hair on Sikh women’s heads automatically implies their coverage by some sort of turban, as Cunningham has connected it with“some variety of dress.”

Even after the Punjab came under the British rule, many Sikh women wore the keski right up until the Gurdwara Reform Movement and the establishment of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) in 1926. Until then, no one – man as well as woman was allowed to be initiated (by taking Amrit) at Sri Akal Takht Sahib without a Keski. It was only afterwards that laxity was introduced in this respect and the wearing of Keski was made optional.

The Akhand Kirtani Jatha has preserved this important rehit up until the current day and hopes that more of the panth embraces this important rehit that gives equality to both genders and which allows all Sikhs to dress in the form of Guru Gobind Singh Jee, our father.

The Sikh Rehit Maryada states that wearing a dastaar is optional for Sikh women but the Akhand Kirtani Jatha urges all Sikh women to adopt the dastaar as it would do great things for the equality of women and for the Chardi Kala or well-being of the panth.