Documentary filmmaker Ana Tiwary says many young Sikhs in Australia are embracing their religious identity and connecting with their roots.
8 Jun 2017 - 2:37 PM  UPDATED 11 Aug 2017 - 4:15 PM

A new documentary film traces the life stories of four young Sikhs in Australia who have made a name for themselves in their respective fields and reinventing their Australia-Sikh identity.

Turban Legends features Australian cricketer Gurinder Sandhu, spoken word poet Sukhjit Kaur Khalsa, hip hop artist L-FRESH The Lion aka Sukhdeep Singh and humanitarian and writer Sahibajot Kaur.

The documentary brings to the fore how young Sikh-Australians view their own faith and heritage and what they think of their identity.

“What I found was that each of them has found their own way of connecting with their faith,” says filmmaker Ana Tiwary who spent two years making this documentary.

“What is common in all four is they are all amazing incredible people. They are full of wisdom and they do take pride in their background and heritage.”

Ana says the protagonists of her documentary are also helping others, especially the younger generation of Sikhs in Australia in finding their identity and being confident and empowered.

She says what sets the Sikh youth apart from the young generation of other migrant communities is that the Australian Sikh youth have grown up learning about their culture and history.

“The entire generation of young Sikhs has grown up around knowledge, information, music, history, art, culture and heritage,” says Ana.

“I think that is the point of difference that the Sikh community has come together to make sure that the young Sikhs are empowered and are in touch with their heritage.”

She says the Sikh temples, known as gurdwaras, have also played an important role where the community members get together, helping bring a sense of belonging.

“Another point of difference is that the Sikh youth in Australia is very well connected and they can support each other.”

Sikh religious leaders have raised concerns over a growing number of Sikh youth in India where the Sikhism was founded over five hundred years ago, were turning their back to the core Sikh tenants of growing unshorn hair and beards and wearing a turban.

But Ana says she discovered many young Sikhs in Australia were embracing their religious identity and connecting with their roots.

While cricketer Gurinder Sandhu isn’t a turbaned Sikh, but Ana says he identifies as a Sikh and he is very proud of his heritage and identity.

“He [Gurinder] never wore a turban. No one his family ever wore a turban. This shows the diversity in the Sikh religion.

“L-FRESH and Sukhjit made a point that it doesn’t matter whether you wear a turban or not. No one’s judging.”

Ana was inspired to make this film after her interactions with some members of the Sikh community in the United States which has been a target of hate crimes after the 9/11 attacks.

“Not many people in Australia know that Sikh religion even exists. Sikhs get attacked, they face discrimination in job hiring process and sometimes gurudwaras have been attacked,” says Ana. “Media can play an important role in creating awareness and I am hoping this documentary helps with that.”

“I felt it was important that Sikh youth are visible and their stories are told from their point of view.”

The documentary Turban Legends will be shown on ABC Compass on Saturday.

For more news and updates, follow SBS Punjabi on Facebook and Twitter.

Also read
L-Fresh the Lion: "Migrants should engage" with Indigenous Australian history
Hip hop artist, Sukhdeep Bhogal aka L-FRESH The LION wants to encourage migrants such as the Sikh and Punjabi communities to become actively engaged in issues affecting Australia's Indigenous communities "and discover how they can play a role in healing.”
"It is a huge risk to take as a Sikh Girl", Sukhjit about her next performance

Sukhjit's next performance at Australia's Got Talent is about her Sikh identity and womanhood.

Ricky Ponting names Gurinder Sandhu as one of the three "smokies" who could be selected for Australia's 2015 World Cup squad

21 year old cricketer Gurinder Sandhu plays for Sydney Thunder in the BBL and plays Shield cricket for NSW. He is among the top three bowlers in the current BBL season, and the 194 cm tall youngster was named by Australian legend Ricky Ponting, as one of the three smokies who have a chance to be included in Australias World Cup squad. One of the others named by Ponting as a smokie (Ashton Agar), has today been named in the Australian test team, which will play the final test match against India next week. Is that a sign for Gurinder - could be called up for the ODI tri-series between Australia, India and England, which starts on January 16? That was the first question we asked of Gurinder when he visited the SBS Melbourne studios today. Gurinder is the only person of Indian origin to be playing in the BBL or for any state team in Australia. We asked Gurinder about the multicultural make- up of the Australian dressing rooms these days and also about ill-fated match at SCG where Phillip Hughes was struck. Gurinder was 12th man in that game and he shared fond memories of his fallen mate. He also said that cricket has normalised now, thanks to the Australia - India test series. This is an interview with Gurinder in English - his interview in Punjabi will be broadcast on SBS Punjabi program on Jan 1 and 2, 2015. To find out when, where and how to listen to SBS Punjabi broadcasts, please visit or download SBS Radio App on your smartphone.