The Singh Project is a wonderful, celebratory look at a modern, multicultural Britain and features members of the Sikh community. British photographers Amit and Naroop are exhibiting 35 very different portraits as a visual exploration of faith, style and identity. These intimate images highlight two very important symbols of the Sikh lifestyle – the beard and the turban (Dahar). The turban in particular is a representation of honor, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. Sikh men (and women) wear the turban to cover their long, uncut hair (kesh), and are also seen in this series brandishing a traditional Sikh sword (kirpan).
Originating in South Asia – primarily in India, Singh was a popular middle name or surname for lords and warriors. Meaning Lion (from the Sanskrit word Simha/Sinha), it was later adopted by the Sikh religion, and today is compulsory for all baptized Sikh males. The sense of pride connected with the history of the name Singh is evident on the faces of these men. They obviously are very proud of being Sikh and enjoy their religion outwardly.
“Many religions determine the way their followers look, but none have such a dramatic and definite ‘look’ as Sikhism. And yet, with 30 million Sikhs in the world, there are almost as many ways to wear the turban and beard as there are Sikhs…The men who feature in this project are businessmen, boxers, IT professionals, doctors, fashion stylists, temple volunteers, magicians and a host of other occupations all adapting and interpreting the Sikh traditions in their own way.” (Source)
The appeal of the beard is still proving popular – after successfully raising 10,000 pounds through Kickstarter (see video here), Amit and Naroop are hosting a free exhibition of the prints opening at The Framers Gallery in Central London from 3rd-15th November.