For the ‘Luck’ of Hair
When was the last time you did something just for good luck?
Have you ever worn a certain piece of jewelry before a big day solely because you felt like it gave you a lucky boost, or avoided stepping on sidewalk cracks, like the old riddle says? As silly as it sounds, everyday we practice our own unique quirks that we believe fuel our luck!
But… how far would you go in your quest for luck to ensure that your ideal outcome would come to fruition? Would you go as far as to shave your entire head of hair?
Believe it or not,that’s exactly what women in India are doing to ensure that their desires and lives are blessed with monetary, spiritual, and relational fortune and luck!
Practicing Hindus in India will traditionally go through the custom of “tonsuring” their hair at a minimum of once in their lifespan. The practice of “tonsuring” one’s hair is the action of shaving one’s hair off as a spiritual offering to the gods.
The main deity at the forefront of this tonsuring practice is Vishnu. Vishnu is one of three gods in the holy trinity of Hinduism. This holy trinity, referred to as the trimurti, is made up of Vishnu, the preserver, Shiva, the destroyer, and Brahma, the creator. The three gods together are considered to be three different tactical approaches to becoming one with “the divine,” and although they are symbolic apart, they are stronger together with their own unique powers.
In one Hindu myth- Vishnu was said to have been hit on the head with an axe, ultimately taking off a part of his hair. Subsequently, an angel proceeded to donate some of her hair to him to replace what was lost and as a result Vishnu blessed her with good fortune and granted her wishes.
Today, people undergo the practice of tonsuring in a similar vein as the angel did with the hope that their wishes will be granted and fulfilled! Some of the believed incentives for tonsuring one’s hair are honoring loved ones who have passed away, undergoing punishment for a believed sin, or purifying oneself through the cleansing of their hair.
Despite the fact that this practice is rooted in a deeply spiritual and religious belief system, there is an unsuspecting next step for where the hair goes after it’s been sacrificed. This next step hasn’t been practiced for centuries - rather, it’s only been recently adopted around the 1960’s as the hair extension industry has risen to popularity! Per our previous blog where the ugly truth of the hair industry was exposed, hair brokers will collect the sacrificed hair and use them for commercial distribution to be ultimately dispersed worldwide for hair extension and wig production
Although this practice seems trivial in comparison to the serious sacrifice of one’s hair, this form of hair collection is actually considered the most ethical way to source hair for extensions. Because women are offering their hair knowingly and on their own accord, they are more invested in their spiritual belief of what the sacrifice will do for them instead of being concerned about what their hair will do for someone else in the hair extension industry.
In fact, it’s considered common knowledge amongst people tonsuring their hair that India is one of the number suppliers to fuel the hair extension industry. Moreover, hair brokers who are skilled and invested in the communities of hair collection will often times do their best to use the earnings of that brokered hair so that it’s repurposed back in to the temple cities.
Photo Cred: BBC, 2016
Although the practice of tonsuring one’s hair isn’t exclusive to a specific region in India, the two most popular states that tonsuring hair is practiced are Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh, located in the southern part of India.
Within the temples, there is a sacred area where tonsuring is known to take place called the Kalyankattan. In these parts of the temples, you will often find barbers, traditionally dressed in white, sitting in rows ready to perform the act shaving one’s hair off. For this reason, the Kalyankattan is known as a “place of happiness.”
For perspective, the Tirupati temple, which is known to be one of the most popular places to sacrifice one’s hair, will have around 100,000 visitors a day on their religious pilgrimage of sacrifice in the pursuit of good fortune!
Where do we fit in?
Untangled Hair Extensions works to pay respect to the religious practice that fuels our products by working to source our hair as ethically as we can. We respect and honor the traditions of practicing Hindus and feel privileged to source hair that is willfully sacrificed and donated, unlike most hair extension companies in our industry.