Opportunities Today : April 2005 Issue

The Pagdi


The pagdi or turban is not only something to decorate the head with, it is not just a long piece of cloth, it is a symbol of honour, bravery and respect. The pagdi is an integral part of culture. It enhances beauty and it provides specific identity. From the pagdi it is possible to tell where the person wearing it, is from, what his social status and financial position is, what his nature is; it can also tell us whether it is being worn on a happy or a sad occasion. In the market pagdis of all ranges are available but its worth cannot be bought with money. The pagdi is something to be looked upon with respect and deep regard, hence not to be sold or purchased. Disrespect to the pagdi often led to a war within moments in past history.

If the pagdi can be the cause of bloodshed, it can also bind people together. The feuds between Emperor Babar and Rana Sanga, and those between Babar's grandson Akbar and Rana Sanga's grandson Rana Pratap are well known. Rivers of blood flowed and the flames of jauhar rose high in the sky. But over and above all this bloodshed, the pagdi, which signifies respect, brotherhood and status made it possible for the grandsons of Akbar and Pratap's to become very good friends for life. These two exchanged pagdis and became brothers. The pagdi which Shahzada Khurram put on Rana Karni Singh's head is even today present in the museum at Udaipur as a living proof of the custom which they started by exchanging pagdi and becoming brothers.

There are several interesting incidents related to the pagdi. On the orders of Emperor Mohammad Shah, the Maharaja of Jodhpur, marched to war with Sabaland Khan, who was Subedar of Ahmedabad, Gujarat. Rivers of blood flowed. Sarbaland Khan was forced to lay down his arms. After this defeat Sarbaland Khan decided to test his last armour, which was his pagdi.

He took off his pagdi and put it on Maharaja Abhay Singh's head. Here again the pagdi proved its strength and power. After the pagdis were exchanged and they became brothers by this custom, Maharaja Abhay Singh respected and followed the dictates of this custom.

He allowed Sarbaland to go in peace with his family and also to take with him wealth and riches. It is permissible to let the head be cut but the pagdi, which lies on top of it, must never be disrespected by being bent in front of anyone.