Mixed Reactions by Sikh Community to GAP Advert Featuring Waris Ahluwalia

NEW YORK—The Sikh Community is amidst a controversy yet again and this time it has to do with a GAP ad that features Waris Ahluwalia.  The ad has provoked members of the community who have found it offensive as a female model is shown touching Waris’ turban in a rather impious way.

In particular, a Sikh from an American background named Gursant Singh has found it particularly “anti-Sikh.”  As per a statement shared on Facebook, the California resident has alleged that “Sikhs are being disrespected & insulted in this new Gap ad which depicts a Sikh with a woman’s hand lustfully placed on his turban and chest.”  Gursant Singh is set to organize a protest outside a GAP story in Davis, California to ask the store to remove the ad.

Many stand opposed to the protest however.  The protest page on Facebook has sparked retaliation from a number of Sikhs against Gursant Singh’s idea.   Many have shown mixed reactions about the ad while completely refuting the need to protest.

While Gursant Singh has a point—the turban is sacred to Sikhs and portraying it in a lustful way is not acceptable to general Sikh society.

On the other hand, remove the female model and just imagine the picture of a turbaned and bearded Sikh male adorning the walls of GAP stores Worldwide, including many countries, such as France, where the turban is forbidden.

In addition, Sikhs should consider the fact that GAP is not just looking to gain business from the Sikh and Punjabi community.  They have taken a risk by selecting a turbaned and bearded male as their model.  Sikhs have long been targets of hatred due to their unique appearance and GAP is helping to alleviate that by showing Sikhs in a positive light.

Tell us what you think about the GAP ad in the comments below.  To add a bit of contrast, how would you perceive this ad if it was for a Punjabi brand featuring two Punjabis?


  1. I think that it was a good idea and it does put sikhs in a positive light and may help in dampening the ongoing trend of not wearing a turban or keeping a beard,i hear a lot of people saying again n again that you cannot reach great heights in a sikh saroop and with an open beard and everything,i think this is an excellent way of shutting down those wagging tongues once and for all,i completely support this idea.

  2. Coming from the UK where there’s an increasing number of Sikh girls who won’t date or marry a Sikh guy in a turban, I find advertising like this a positive thing for Sikh men. The Sikh’s who don’t like the advert jump on their high horse claiming it is anti-sikh! what a load of rubbish. What about the Sikh men singing about alcohol, sexy and girls in their bhangra songs? what about the religious Sikh men displaying their naked torso’s in India’s Got Talent? This is pathetic. Just wish these ignorant, backwards idiots would shut the hell up.

  3. If this is insulting and disrespectful, then what about the Punjabi songs with semi-nude models clinging on to Sikh male turbaned singers Punjabi music channels? At least the lady in this ad is so decently presented. One can interpret anything out of thin air. Narrow minds will only see narrowly. GAP is doing us Sikhs a great favour which we as Sikhs failed to do so all this while. It’s really sad to say that we Sikhs (learners) are not learning.

  4. If this is insulting and disrespectful, then what about the Punjabi songs with semi-nude models clinging on to Sikh male turbaned singers on the Punjabi music channels? At least the lady in this ad is so decently presented. She’s not even touching his chest but just holding on to the collar. One can interpret it in many ways depending on one’s thoughts. Narrow minds will only give narrow pictures. GAP is doing us Sikhs a great favour which we as Sikhs failed to do so all this while.

  5. The Sikh community should be proud and supporting Waris and the fact that Gap have taken this risk to project a Sikh image in their advert. As a practicing sikh, I see nothing disrespectful in the way the model is posing. I believe this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about Sikhism to the wider world and I would encourage other youths to consider this career path. As for my brothers and sisters opposing this, I would suggest they focus their energies on the real challenges facing Sikhism, particularly our youth moving away from their faith. Well done a Waris and thank you Gap for taking the decision to use a Sikh model.

  6. Looks like we sikhs have acquired a habbit of make controversies out of everything.Instead of being proud that a Sikh gentleman got a chance to be a model.This should come out as a good example for Sikh youth, who are hiding their identities and cutting hair.She is touching his turban to get rest against his body and nothing else.Try to ignore petty things and move ahead.If you really want to bring up controversies then there are bigger issues within sikh community such as Casteism(jattism,non-jats,blah blah…), drugs and alcohol in punjab.

  7. Portraying a Sikh in their Advertisement is not wrong but they shouldn’t have let the female model put her hand on the turban.

  8. GAP did a awesome job by selecting a beared and Turban man in thier AD s. It is realy touching as it will help in recognising and respecting persons with different look. This ad will deffinitly help in reducing streotype personality and create more understaning and acceptance of people who look different. It is risky for GAP but they took the chanllege. A Big Thanks to GAPs

  9. Gursant Singh keep up the seva. True gursikhs have ALWAYS been in the minority, no different to these days, only the rare few understand and are blessed with the sweet elixir of true sikhi.

    Why always with the uncle-tom must fit in attitude from our people? Show some pride. If we’re Guru’s sikhs, would Guru Gobind Singh ji, our father, role model, inspiration and very life have ever posed like this? That ought to end all and any debate. Yes, times are changing, but to imply that Guru ji never took any of this into consideration when creating Khalsa, is to indirectly question their absolute perfection.

  10. Gursant Singh should be sent back to India because he is a Number one idiot. He should be pu in a 7X7 room in the basement and should stay there for rest of his life. We don’t need people like Gursant in Our Community. Noting wrong that female model is touching turban.

  11. I am a Sikh and am very very proud of this and thank GAP for giving hat recognition! They took a huge risk only to bring Sikhs in a better light. People would not mix us with other faiths. Infact it shows that Sikhs practice their religion and integrate with the society at the same time!!! Very very proud of them. Thankyou GAP. I would like to see ,ore of the Sikh models. Some people are so lame that they are upset at the fact that the female model is touching his turban! She is not touching it in any disrespectful way. Do we not have sisters or mothers that will touch our turbans to clean when dust settles on top??? Would you consider that as a disrespect too??? Some sad losers are giving entire sikh community a bad name! My dad wears a turban and it makes me proud seeing a model with the turban on!

    In that case you will also have a problem with ‘Jean Paul Gaultier’ who also showed Turbaned models in Paris: https://www.google.co.in/search?q=sikh+models+france&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=fCaJUq2oDoX3rQfh9oDYCg&ved=0CAcQ_AUoAA&biw=1024&bih=672&dpr=2#facrc=_&imgrc=Ys45zhyVFJBSBM%3A%3BjOgOsoSZTL1LfM%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.kaurista.com%252Fwp-content%252Fuploads%252F2012%252F07%252Fjpgaultier22-tile1.jpeg%3Bhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.kaurista.com%252F2012%252F07%252F22%252Fturbans-on-the-paris-runway%252F%3B904%3B962

    Ps: I would anyway prefer GAP promoting us and giving us recognition than our image/ identity being lost and being confused with other faiths!!!!!

  12. Honestly , the so called guy Gursant singh should learn to interpret expressions before commenting. Very clearly it is the perspective.. how you see the things.. I am proud to be Sikh and proud of this ad.

  13. “While Gursant Singh has a point—the turban is sacred to Sikhs and portraying it in a lustful way is not acceptable to general Sikh society.”

    – really ?? You seem to be the one trying to incite mixed reactions!

  14. I hope he shows up by himself only to pretest. Radical views will take us to old ages. Shame on hard liners who have done nothing against 1984 riots victims and see oppurtunities to become famous by organizing these kind of protest.

  15. The above article failed to mention that The Gap is also using the Sikh religion to “Brownwash” the ugly fact The Gap does business with Bangladeshi exporters, who subject their garment workers to harsh working conditions. South Asia of course is where the majority of people with brown skin live and a Sikh with a turban makes a convenient pawn for the Gap to use in its greedy game of making more profits. Sikhs refuse to allow The Gap to exploit the Sikh religion in order to sell clothes! Join the protest against the Gap’s disrespect of Sikhs https://www.facebook.com/events/200589616794899/

    Factory in Bangladesh accused of shocking abuse of pregnant workers in new labour report Pregnant workers illegally fired, denied maternity leave pay at Bangladesh factory that sews for The Gap says report


    Sikhs protest The Gap’s exploitation of the Sikh religion & Sikh boys for commercial profit! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qi_0NpgdMkU

    New GAP Ad With Sexy Sikh Guy Is Clever Marketing PHOTOS http://www.carbonated.tv/lifestyle/new-gap-ad-with-sexy-sikh-guy-is-clever-marketing-photos

  16. Hey, come on. Gursant SIngh is NOT a nut job. He has a convert’s zeal. He rediscovered Sikhi after being trapped in the Yogi Bhajan cult. He is doing an incredible job of exposing that group after spending 30 years stuck inside a manipulative, destructive organization. He’s not the only Sikh who finds the Gap ad offensive to both men and women.

  17. GAP fetishizes Sikhism and exoticizes India in this ad. In particular, the female model treats the Sikh’s turban and body hair as a fetish. Moreover, the presence of a White female legitimates the presence of the Sikh. Does Sikhism exist only relative to Whiteness, as the ad implies? Or does the ad merely underscore the problem of color line in India, e.g., Whiter is better?

    The Sikhs do gain exposure to American Society through such fetishized marketing. Is the exposure worth the compromise to Sikh identity? The West has treated India with fetishization and exoticization throughout history.

  18. I am a proud sikh and I don’t find it offensive, because when we bring up kids they all have different aspirations and desires and if Gursant singh is doing modelling, just because he is a sikh it should not stop him.

    I believe in the words of the Guru which says ” sarab dharam mein uttam dharam har ka nam jap nirmal karam” which means a true religious person is one who prays regularly and whose actions do not harm any one.

  19. She isn’t touching it “lustfully.” Note the position of her fingers, and how softly and delicately she placed it. There’s more tension on the hand holding his jacket. Her eyes aren’t lustful either – again, very delicate looking.

    She’s showing simple affection, while he’s showing strength. It’s a stunningly beautiful picture.

  20. Ad is ok, but so is Gursant Singh protesting it! I want everyone to google images of Waris Ahluwalia and I have seen some pictures of him with various girls etc that would make me question his character. Would I make him my role model as a Sikh? Probably not. I do admire Gursant Singh for his gun challenge in court! It is every American’s constitutional right and every Sikh’s religious right. That stand alone shows how much he understands Sikh values and ethics better than many of my fellow Sikhs from Punjabi background who happen to admire Bollywood type Sikhi. I wonder how th new movie Singh Sahib the Great would do as a role model for Sikhs whose songs are already being banned in India?

  21. So many Sikhs are proud of this ad. Yeah, it’s fetishy and not particularly reflective of the values of the faith, but it’s not disturbing or offensive. It was Waris Aluwalia’s choice to be shown in that light. It’s fine. The image of Sikhs does need to be more normalized and greater representation is the best way, even if it’s not perfect. Gursant Singh is particularly vitriolic to western converts to Sikhism (ironically, as he is one) and once sued the California government for gun bans because it was against “his” religion. He’s pretty well-known as a nut job.

  22. Any one who wants to protest this GREAT move by GAP is a lunatic and deserves to be in mental asylum. Such silly moves ..as well as last year’s protest against Jay Leno on Golden Temple will only further portray Sikhs as in tolerant and narrow minded. The Sikhism is the most universal and all encompassing religion in the world.

  23. why to go and protest outside the brand office. when the ad was made, they would have a complete consent from a sikh shown in the picture. The model’s opinion should also be heard once.

    very well said that GAP has taken a risk by selecting a turbaned and bearded male as their model. Sikhs have long been targets of hatred due to their unique appearance and GAP is helping to alleviate that by showing Sikhs in a positive light.

    The broad objective seems to be clean. Personally, I have not found it offensive.



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