IT’S A VIDEO GAME, BUT…
VIDEO GAME CHARACTERS AND CULTURE.
Dhalsim, a character that has been around since the early days of Street Fighter II is fan favorite. Seen as bald, yoga guru from India, Dhalsim will be sporting a new look in Capcom’s Street Fighter V.
A turban and a long beard.
So how does a character primarily known for his stretchy limbs go from being bald, and without a beard, to being Sikh or at least having the characteristics of man in the Sikh religion?
Street Fighter Alpha series, featured Dhalsim with a turban, which he would remove before the start of each fight.
A Sikh person would not remove their turban. The turban is to cover the individual’s hair, which they are to never cut as is a tradition in Sikh belief.
A Sikh person would never cut their beard. In Street Fighter V, Capcom is trying to establish that the character has aged. However, if Dhalsim were Sikh he’d have a beard, even in the older Street Fighter games.
Among the Sikhs, the Dastaar is an article of faith that represents honour, self-respect, courage, spirituality, and piety. The Khalsa Sikh men and women, who keep the Five Ks, wear the turban partly to cover their long, uncut hair (kesh). The Khalsa Sikhs regard the Dastaar as an important part of the unique Sikh identity.
So, now Dhalsim is legit Sikh. Or is he?
Dhalsim’s minimal clothing and necklace of skulls are reminiscent of the Hindu ascetics known as Kapalikas (“skull-bearers”) who were often associated macabre practices such as cannibalism and meditating on top of rotting corpses. LikeBlanka and Urien, Dhalsim’s alternate costumes change his skin color, usually a shade of grey or yellow like the ash that Hindu holymen cover their bodies in.
In Street Fighter V, he has gained a long white beard, possibly from aging, and wears his turban rather than removing it.
But seriously Capcom, no Yoga practising Hindu or Sikh would wear the skulls of dead children on their neck. That’s more VOODOO.
It could be the original Japanese concept was in fact Voodoo, but they opted for Yoga instead.