Avtar Singh Mauni, from Punjab, India, is the proud owner of the world’s largest turban. The devout Sikh’s enormous headgear consists of no less than 645 meters of fabric, weighing 100 pounds. It took him a staggering 16 years to assemble, and he needs to spend six hours just to put it on. And you thought you had problems getting ready in the morning!
The 60-year-old is rather proud of his unusual, multi-colored turban; he declared that he will continue to wear it until he has no strength left in his limbs to carry it. “I don’t consider it a burden. I’m most happy when I wear it,” he explained.
In fact, Avtar Singh is so used to the turban that he finds it odd when he isn’t wearing it. “On the rare times I don’t have my turban on, I keep getting this feeling of being incomplete, that some part of me is missing,” he said. “I get afraid that I may fall and I keep wondering ‘have I lost something, where is my turban?’”
Most people who follow Sikhism wear turbans, but of a more manageable length – between 5 and 7 meters. But Avtar Singh chose to take his turban, quite literally, to new lengths. He wanted to break the world record for the longest turban – 400 meters, belonging to Major Singh – so he took the length up in stages.
“I just keep putting on the cloth from top to bottom one layer at a time just like you would lay the storeys of a building,” he said. According to Avtar Singh, the purple and orange fabric alone weighs 66 pounds, while the decorative ornaments make up the remaining 30-odd pounds. Apart from the turban, he also carries a sword and dons heavy bangles weighing an additional 87 pounds.
Wearing such a bizarre costume doesn’t permit him to get into cars or enter doorways with ease. So he always rides a motorcycle when he makes his regular pilgrimages across Punjab. And he’s something of a celebrity wherever he goes, thanks to his easily identifiable headgear.
“When I go out a huge crowd gathers around me,” he said. “Some are amazed beyond belief and tell me, ‘You are great for carrying such a large turban. You must have been blessed with lots of energy.’”
But Avtar Singh confessed that he doesn’t really enjoy the attention so much. “Sometimes all they want is to take a picture, so I loudly tell them to stop. After all it takes me hours to put on my turban and all they want is to take a quick picture and then run away.”
But that doesn’t make people love him any less. He’s become sort of an inspiration to younger Sikhs who look up to him. “These days many Sikh children choose to cut their hair and have forgotten to wear turbans,” said Gurpreet Singh, an acquaintance who affectionately calls Avtar Singh ‘Babaji’, which means grandfather.
“But Babaji reminds us of its importance, which is very good. The Sikh community can learn a lot from him and our children can learn that they should grow their hair and wear a turban,” he added.