Sikh Topknot Joora Defined

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Joora is a Punjabi word which refers to a bun, or topknot, of hair wound around and secured at the top of the head.

In Sikhism, joora refers to the top knot of kes, the essential long unshorn hair worn by Sikhs, who are forbidden, by religious mandates, to cut their hair. The joora is typically worn beneath the turban by devout Sikh men, women, and children. The joora may be twisted and secured atop the head by winding and knotting the hair, or wrapping the kes with a length of turban cloth called a keski. Sometimes hair pins or elastic hair bands are also used. A small wooden kanga used to comb the kes, is tucked into the joora. 

The keski, a short under turban may also be used to hold the joora and kanga in place and helps to form the base necessary for wrapping specific styles of turbans such as a Sikh ladies dastar. A joora is necessary to be able to tie the patka, a square of turban cloth worn by many Sikh children to cover their kes and keep it neat, and by adults beneath the turban as the base for a pagri, worn by many Sikh men. The joora together with the keski forms the base for the Nihang style domalla, or double turban, worn by many devout Sikhs. Some women and youth may wear a low joora tied in a bun at the nape of the neck and cover the head with a short length of turban, chunni, scarf, or bandana. 

Caring for the Joora

The joora is often wound up into a knot while hair is wet and may cause discomfort as hair dries and tightens the bun. Tying the joora with a tight rubber band may also pull the hair. Mothers often oil and plait a child's kes tightly, sometimes in two sections to prevent stray hairs and wind the braids together into a joora at the top of the child's head. It is important when tying any joora to prevent it from pulling the hair too tightly as it may cause thinning of hair, a receding hairline, and ultimately permanent hair loss.
Balding men, or devotees letting their hair grow out, may tie a length of keski to take the place of a joora in order to make a base for tie the turban.

Joora and Civil Rights Concerns

Sikhs stand out in public places. The joora produces a unique visible bulge beneath the turban that can cause curiosity and even result in suspicion.

Pronunciation and Spelling of Joora

English transliterated spellings are phonetic.

  • Pronunciation: Joora sounds like Jew - raw. The first syllable consonant jajaa is represented by the letter j. The first syllable vowel dulankar has a long sound represented by oo. The second syllable consonant Rrarraa or Rhaarhaa is represented phonetically by a single or double r, or by rh, and is an aspirated sound. The second syllable vowel kanaa has a long sound represented phonetically by aa. 
  • Alternate Spellings: Joora is the most common simple spelling. Other acceptable phonetic spellings are, Joorraa and Joorhaa.
  • Also Known As: A joora may be referred to in English as a top knot, rishi knot, or hair bun.