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Meet Avantilal Chavla: The ‘Turban Man’ of India

The World’s biggest Turban by Chavla, can be seen at the Western Zone Cultural Centre in Udaipur

Avantilal Chavla awarded for having World's largest turban collection. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Turban is a kind of headwear specially known for its binding
  • Avantilal Chavla, a turban maker from Vadodara has a World record of having the largest collection of Turbans
  • The World’s biggest Turban is found in Western Zone Cultural Centre in Udaipur

VADODARA:  72 year-old Avantilal Chavla has possibly the largest collection of turbans in India. Turban is a kind of headwear specially known for its binding. Turban is most commonly wore by men and is manually tied. The binding of the turban varies from communities to communities. Usually, a turban is made up of a cotton cloth and are vibrant to look at.

Shri Guru Nanak wearing turban. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Shri Guru Nanak. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

A turban is a pride for Sikhs. All the Gurus of Sikhs wear turban. A turban is also known as Pagree and Dastar in Punjab. Wearing a turban is an official policy among Sikhs and their last Guru, Guru Gobind Singh has made it mandatory to wear Turban. In Sikhism, a turban represents that the person wearing it shows respect of Sikh’s teachings and promote equality. It is one of the methods to preserve Sikh identity.

A TOI report said, not only Sikhs but also some Christians, Rastafaris, Islams and people believing in Judaism wear Turban. Turban is not popular only in India but also in various foreign countries like Fiji, Indonesia, Pakistan, UK, Greece, Myanmar, Pakistan, Armenia and others.

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Avantilal Chavla, a turban maker from Vadodra has a World record of having the largest collection of Turbans.  Chavla started making Turbans at a very young age. He had a record of making 20 types of turban in 25 years starting from 1988. Chavla was a professor in the Department of Dramatics in MS University and is currently retired. Chavla is the first person who is PhD on turban in 1989.

Avantilal Chavla with his turban collection. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Avantilal Chavla with his turban collection. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Chavla belongs from Ratlam and is now a perfect Gujarati. Chavla has been granted a sum of Rs 1 lakh to display  his collection at the workshop cum exhibition, which would be organized next month in New Delhi. The fund was granted to him by Sangeet Natak Academy.

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The World’s biggest Turban can be seen at the Western Zone Cultural Centre in Udaipur. The turban is  made by Chavla. The turban measures around 151 inches and has a circumference of 11 feet. It weighs around 30 kilograms and is 7 inches thick, said the TOI report.

World's largest turban. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
World’s largest turban. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Chavla collection also includes turban of Maharaja of Baroda, Thakore Sahibs of Jamnagar, Morbi, Limbdi, Wadhavan and others. Chavla can also bind a turban in just five minutes.

-This article is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram. 



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  • Aparna Gupta

    Turbans are our pride. This is really surprising that someone can do PhD on turbans

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‘Concept of equality’ pervades world’s biggest community kitchen

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually

Bangla Sahib is one of the most famous place of worship of Sikhs in Delhi. Wikimedia Commons
Equality is important for the biggest community. Wikimedia Commons

If there is one big leveller for people, irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, social status or riches, it is the “langar”, or community kitchen, at the Golden Temple complex, where the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Harmandir Sahib, is located, in this city considered holy by Sikhs.

Referred to as the world’s largest community kitchen, the Sri Guru Ram Das Jee Langar Hall of the Golden Temple complex is unique in several aspects. On an average, it feeds over 100,000 people daily — from children to old people — from all religions, castes, regions, countries; and people from varied social, economic and political backgrounds.

“It is a 24×7 operation that carries on day and night all 365 days of the year. This has been going on for centuries, since the concept of langar was introduced by Guru Nanak Dev (the first Guru of the Sikh religion and its founder; born 1469) and propagated by other Gurus,” Wazir Singh, senior in-charge of the langar preparation, told IANS here.

Unlike other government organisations and institutions in India, there are no provisions for reservations based on caste or religion. Wikimedia commons
The Golden Temple complex provides food for many. Wikimedia Commons

At any given point of the day or night, the place is not only swarmed by devotees wanting to partake what is considered as blessed by service but by hundreds of volunteers who are ever-so-ready to be part of the voluntary cooking and serving process. The langar food is even sent thrice daily to the two Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC)-run hospitals in Amritsar, especially to a ward where treatment of mentally-ill patients and drug-addicts is being carried out. The SGPC is tasked with the management all Sikh shrines.

“We have over 500 volunteer employees. The sangat (community) also pitches in with great enthusiasm daily. People come from across Punjab on trucks and tractor-trolleys — even other states, different countries — to help in this massive exercise of making and serving food. Several local residents, including women, have been coming here for years. People take time out of their government and private jobs to serve here, irrespective of their religion or caste. We welcome everyone with love,” Wazir Singh, speaking in Punjabi, pointed out, even as he continued to issue instructions to staffers involved in cooking the langar.

The langar is all vegetarian — comprising mainly of dal (maa-chole ki dal), rice (slightly salted for taste), chapattis, achar (pickle) and a vegetable, along with something sweet (kheer or prasad). In the morning, the “chai langar” comprises of tea and rusk.

The devotees sit down on the matted floor inside the langar hall in rows. To manage the huge rush, the SGPC volunteers allow only a few hundred to enter the hall at one time. The whole operation is carried out in a meticulous manner as a daily routine.

Also Read: ‘Government chalked out 1984 anti-Sikh genocide’

“The whole exercise is quite enormous but it goes on, with the blessings of the almighty, seamlessly. The daily expense is around Rs 15 lakh. We use 100 quintals (100 kg) rice and up to 30 kg (each) of dal and vegetables daily. Over 100 LPG cylinders (domestic size) are used daily for the cooking along with hundreds of kilograms of firewood for the traditional cooking. Nearly 250 kg of ‘desi ghee’ (clarified butter) is used in the cooking. We have over three lakh steel plates. We can serve 10 lakh (one million) people in a day,” Gurpreet Singh, in-charge of the kitchen, told IANS. SGPC functionaries pointed out that 30,000-35,000 people from Amritsar and nearby areas are daily visitors to the shrine and partake langar thrice. Many of these are migrants from other states and poor people who cannot afford meals.

“Our doors are open for everyone without discrimination. We follow the concept of equality here,” said Amrit Pal Singh, a SGPC official at the Information Office. The chapattis, in the thousands, are made on eight chapatti-making machines and even by hand by women and men volunteers. The steel utensils (plates, glasses and spoons), used by devotees, also numbering in lakhs, are washed voluntarily by the devotees themselves or by volunteers.

“The shrine complex has such a spiritual attraction about it. The langar served here leaves you satisfied in many aspects. The whole experience touches your soul,” Ramesh Goyal, a devotee from Bathinda, said.

“I had always heard about this shrine. Today, what I experienced was heavenly. The langar service is unparalleled in any religion. They do it with so much devotion and humility despite such huge crowds. It is unimaginable,” Tariq Ahmed, who had come here with his family from Patna in Bihar, told IANS. Anup Singh, a young Sikh devotee from Amritsar, often accompanies his grandparents and parents to the shrine.

Sikh Community, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh
Children belonging to Sikh Community, Wikimedia Commons 

“I love to serve chapattis to the people having langar. It is a very satisfying and fulfilling experience,” he said. “The whole exercise is carried out selflessly. It is a big task but everything is carried out smoothly. We keep introducing changes depending on the needs of the devotees,” Roop Singh, Chief Secretary of the SGPC, told IANS.

The SGPC, known as the mini-parliament of Sikh religion, manages the Golden Temple complex and gurdwaras across Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. It has an annual budget of over Rs 1,100 crore, mostly from donations at the gurdwaras.

The Golden Temple complex itself gets millions of visitors from across the country and other parts of the world annually. The strong Sikh diaspora in other countries like United States, Britain and Canada actively contributes to the shrine and visits it whenever they can. IANS