13 Striking Portraits That Challenge Society's Views of Sikh Men

13 Striking Portraits That Challenge Society's Views of Sikh Men

Fun fact: Sikhs make up 0.8% of the United Kingdom's population, but 100% of this striking photo series by British photographer duo Amit and Naroop:

ljit Singh Plahe - Watchmaker

Image Credit: Amit and Naroop

Earlier this year, the pair launched a Kickstarter account to fund their latest endeavor: A 35-image testament to Sikh men in Great Britain.

Simply dubbed "The Singh Project," the series has already exceeded its fundraising goal by over $5,146, prompting plans for a "fantastic exhibition" in the U.K. later this year. The aim was to showcase the unique individual styles that British Sikhs bring to their traditional identifying features — the beard and the turban.

Here's a sampling of the results:

Ishtmeet Singh Phull - Student

Narvir Singh - Filmmaker

Chaz Singh Fliy - Creative Director

Magic Singh - Magician

Amanpreet Singh - Temple Volunteer

Image Credit: Amit and Naroop

The men pictured come from many walks of life: "[T]emple volunteers, retired businessmen, students, a magician" and more, according to the Wall Street Journal. They are but 13 of the over 423,000 Sikhs who call the U.K. home today.

What partly inspired the photographers — both British Sikh men themselves — was the place the beard has assumed in the popular imagination lately:

"Billboards advertisements, magazine editorials, TV commercials all featured male models with sizeable beards," they wrote on their Kickstarter page.

Balbir Singh - Temple Volunteer

Image Credit: Amit and Naroop

The portraits serve as a reminder that "what's trendy now has been done in style for years" in the Sikh community.

The photographers added: "Being of the Sikh faith, we found this intriguing. In our culture the beard is a constant, a key tradition and an integral and important identifying feature of a Sikh male … We wanted to pay tribute to our heritage, but in an artistic style that expresses our skill and style as contemporary British photographers."

Roop Singh - Sikh Storyteller

Image Credit, all: Amit and Naroop

Plus: The heightened visibility of Sikhs is especially important today considering the myriad misconceptions that surround them. In one example, rapper Joe Budden recently came under fire posting an Instagram photo equating Sikhism with terrorism:

Image Credit: Angry Asian Man

"We … wanted to break down barriers and show that having a beard and turban does not restrict what you can do in life," the photographers told the Economic Times. "The men that feature in the project range from boxers to doctors, watchmakers to polo players. In that way, we did want to change the way Sikhs are perceived globally."

Darshan Singh Bhooi - Retired Businessman

Gurbir Singh - Polo Player

Asa Singh - Highway Planner

Gurjeevan Singh Plahe

Image Credit: Amit and Naroop

In any case: The series has gained significant traction across the Internet, and drawn praise from the British Sikh community:

"The response … has been amazing," the photographers added. "One person even sent an email saying how they had been waiting for something like this to happen, and as we are Sikhs, they don't feel like we are abusing or using the religion as a tool for publicity."

Piggybacking on these endorsements, the duo hopes to bring these photos to audiences around the world. With any luck, their incredible images will arrive shortly to a city nearby.

Hardeep Singh Kohli - Comedian, Writer, Presenter

Image Credit: Amit and Naroop

Back the project here.