National Geographic : 1972 Oct
Finally, about his head he wrapped 15 feet of starched maroon cloth to form a turban. I must say he was a most impressive figure when it was all over. That was my first close-up, years ago, of an authentic type of one of the world's most re markable people-the Sikhs (from the San skrit shishya, disciple). There are ten million of them in India, the majority living in the Punjab, the Sikh homeland (map, page 533). Their impact on the nation, which has a to tal population of 550,000,000, is out of all proportion to their number. Almost all Sikhs, like my companion on the train, flourish the beard and the dashing tur ban. I discovered why, not long ago, at the "There is one God. He is the supreme truth." Thus begins the morning prayer of a Sikh, follower of a religion that blends elements of Islam and Hinduism. Here in the Golden Temple at Amritsar, a worshiper reads a copy of the Guru Granth Sahib, which includes prayers, the wisdom of the Sikh gurus, or teachers, and the writings of Hindu and Moslem saints. Renowned as soldiers, athletes, and farmers, Sikhs are recognized by turban, beard, and steel bangle (left).