NEW YORK: Times Square became a sea of turbans on Saturday April 13 with thousands of Sikhs, tourists and locals  participating in the 8th annual Turban Day.

Turban Day started in 2013 at Baruch College, is celebrated annually to spread awareness about the Sikh community and promote its culture and identity with this year’s Turban Day also marking the 550th birth anniversary of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji and the festival of Vaisakhi.

The annual event is organised by the ‘Sikhs of New York’ and was this years also sponsored in collaberation with Ben and Jerry’s and the National Sikh Campaign.

Turban Day was held for the fourth time in Times Square, a location often described as the crossroads of the world. Among the participants in the events were tourists from Colombia, Germany and further afield.

The aim of the event was to demystify Sikh culture — and to make clear others shouldn’t be “scared of us,” said the event’s founder, Chanpreet Singh, who heads the non-profit Sikhs of New York.

Chanpreet Singh stated that the Sikh community values “love, faith, equality and social justice.”

“In middle school and high school I was — numerous times — told to go back to my country,” he said.

“I was called Osama bin Laden. I was called a terrorist. So there had to be something to change that.”

“Our kids go through a lot of hate crime,” said event volunteer Kawaldeep Singh, 50. “People don’t know who are the people in the turban.”

Organisers expected between 35,000 and 40,000 people to pass through during the gathering, which went from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last year, the Sikhs of New York event set the Guinness World record for most turbans tied — 3,010 — in eight hours.