Written by SS Japa Kaur Khalsa, Espanola NM
[Bana] was the foundation stone laid for the beginning of the most beautiful consciousness, the Khalsa. Dress has a very unique power in it. It gives you confirmation in relation to the world around you. It gives you spirit and power to relate in your grace and your values to the values around you.”—The Siri Singh Sahib (February 19, 1979)
When my husband and I were newly married and living in Chicago, we used to head over to the Sri Chinmoy Restaurant on Sunday mornings after a cozy community sadhana. We loved stopping by for brunch before Gurdwara with our Chicago sangat.
Our waiter friend once commented about our bana: “Wow! You look like a king and queen. Everyone else rolls in here in their pajamas, but you guys look incredible!” It was that sense of royalty that seemed to appeal to him.
We always had such fun being friendly with the staff and customers at this place for spiritual food seekers. Our bana was a conversation starter and served as a way for the staff to remember our group of friends and connect with us.
The Royalty of Bana
I remember what an impression the Siri Singh Sahib and his entourage used to make back in the day—the pristine white and flowing robes, so graceful, demure, and regal.
Perhaps the quiet presence of an elegant outfit can influence behavior in subtle ways. The Siri Singh Sahib would say: “Be present and present yourself.”
I once had a very graceful 90-year-old patient. She would always arrive at the office perfectly dressed. She was as thin as a rail and had a perfect hat, manicured nails, pearls, and a nice outfit.
She hailed from an era when you got dressed up to see the doctor. Other people sitting in the lobby would actually stand up the minute she walked in the door. It was her presence that they were acknowledging.
Dressing for God
This is the power of bana, that people automatically recognize your spirit, because you are dressing for God and the integrity of your soul. I send prayers that this tradition stays alive. When I wear bana I feel its ripple-effect on me and the people around me.
My head covering is the most important aspect of bana to me. When I put on my turban I feel an immediate consolidation of my energy and my ability to focus. I feel this especially now, when our fellow head covering-wearing Muslims are being discriminated against.
At the airport, I passed by a woman in a hijab and we gave each other a knowing look. Without even saying anything we knew that we were happy to be reminding ourselves of God in every moment, regardless of what others in society may think.
About the Author
SS Japa K. Khalsa, DOM, is a Kundalini Yoga teacher and Associate Trainer in the KRI Aquarian Trainer Academy. She is a Minister of Sikh Dharma and lives in New Mexico with her husband and son. She is co-author of Enlightened Bodies: Exploring Physical and Subtle Human Anatomy. Dr. Japa is a gifted integrative doctor, combining traditional acupuncture with herbal and nutritional medicine, injection therapy, and energy healing. Her work with patients and students emphasizes optimal health and personal transformation through self-care and awareness of the interconnectedness of all life.