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 bit more inclusive for her second grader.
Sheena Pasricha, of Glen Ridge, is the first in the tri-state to purchase a Patka Box. It’s a tool kit for educators about the traditional Sikh head covering.
The toolkit was created by Canadian-based educator, Rosey Kaur. She found inspiration after she was approached by a non-Sikh teacher whose student’s Patka 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.
The article of faith covers a Sikh child’s long, uncut hair, which is tied in a neat bun on top of their head.
Sheena Pasricha helps her son Shaan get ready for the day by tying his Patka every morning before school; 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 said.
Now in the ninth grade, Jayraj recently decided to move past the Patka and start tying a traditional Turban like his dad. But he recalls starting off with the Patka, or 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 said.
The Patka Box was designed to help answer questions one may have about the article of faith. It also includes instructions for educators on how to tie one, should a Sikh student need assistance if it comes undone during the school day.
Jayraj Pasricha experienced such an instance when he was in school. He recalled a time his teacher called his mother after his Patka came loose.
His mother Sheena Pasricha shared what those moments were like on the phone with his teacher.
“She was like, ‘His Patka is really loose and I’m not sure what to do with it,’” said Pasricha. “I had to verbalize over the phone how to tie it. At least his head didn’t come home uncovered. She tried her hardest to tie it.”
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. And Kaur says she is in ongoing conversations with district leaders in the tri-state to adopt more.