Toolkit helps educators learn about traditional Sikh Patka head covering
As children in New Jersey get ready to head back to school, one northern New Jersey mom is making sure this year will be a little easier for her second grader.
Sheena Pasricha, of Glen Ridge, is the first in the tri-state to purchase a Patka Box – a tool kit for educators on the traditional Sikh head covering.
On any given morning, Sheena helps her son Shaan get ready for the day by tying his Patka – just like she did for her older son Jayraj.
“Sometimes when I didn’t know how to tie it, my parents would tie it in the morning. It would get loose, and the teachers wouldn’t know how to fix it,” Jayraj says.
Now in the ninth grade, Jayraj says he felt like he was ready to move past the Patka and start tying a traditional Turban like his dad. But he recalls starting off with the small square-shaped cloth as the only Sikh in his North Jersey school.
“They used to ask me, ‘What’s on your head?’ ‘Is that a rock on your head?’ and then I’d explain to them that it’s a part of my religion,” Jayraj says.
The Patka covers a Sikh child’s long, uncut hair. It is tied in a neat bun on top of their head.
The Patka Box now helps answer all the questions one may have about the article of clothing and teaches teachers how to tie it. It was created by educator Rosey Kaur. She was approached by a non-Sikh teacher when one of her students’ Patkas came undone during school.
“I couldn’t leave that child feeling hopeless or helpless and that teacher feeling helpless because she didn’t know how to tie the Patka,” Kaur says.
Jayraj recalls one time his Patka came loose, and the teacher had to call his mother.
“She was just like, ‘His Patka is really loose and I’m not sure what to do with it.’ So I had to verbalize over the phone like how to tie it. So at least his head didn’t come home uncovered, and she tried her hardest to tie it,” Sheena Pasricha says.
The Patka Box includes a guide on how to tie the article of faith, which can be challenging for young children to do themselves. More than 3,000 Patka Boxes have been distributed to school districts globally. There are conversations with district leaders in the tri-state to adopt more.