People Worth Knowing – Harman Singh
And in May 2015, he saved the life of a small boy.
Shortly before 9am, Harman heard screeching tyres in the street outside his home. He rushed outside to find a woman cradling an unconscious five-year-old next to the swerved car.
His gut instinct was to remove his turban and use it to stem the flow of blood. His action caused the boy to retain enough blood that, despite suffering potentially life-threatening injuries, he made it to a hospital and was stable by the next day.
In the Sikh faith, the turban is hugely symbolic. It is worn not only to identify the wearer as a Sikh, but as an emblem of honour and respect, of spirituality, holiness and piety. Traditionally, those who wear the turban are considered protectors, pure and trustworthy. What it represents makes it so much more than a garment. It is considered to be an important part of each Sikh’s unique identity, to such an extent that in some areas of the world Sikhs are exempted from wearing bicycle or motorcycle helmets.
Wearing a turban is a commitment that Sikhs make to their religion. By not removing it in public, they show that they are conscious of their faith in their lives every day.
In using his to help others, Harman has embodied the message of religion across the world. He has taken an item that signifies the goodness of a human being and has made it live up to its tradition.
Harman is being praised by Sikhs everywhere as a shining example of proper behaviour. Of acknowledging the laws of his faith and of knowing how to prioritise in emergencies – of choosing to save the life of another human being even when it means defying an ancient religious tradition.
This choice is one that should be admired.
A lot of people – religious or not – cling to symbols or trinkets that have value more often in theory than in utility. Too often, they let their reverence for the symbol eclipse what it is supposed to represent. Many wars have been fought in the names of religions that declare peace and love to be the finest things man can achieve.
When faced with the suffering another, Harman Singh did what was necessary to relieve it. His gut instinct was to help, to ignore protocol for the greater good.
He knew the value of acting in the spirit of his faith over preserving only the symbols of it.
He knew that the most important thing he could do – not as a Sikh, but as a human being – was to help someone in need.