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Whose Hair Are You Wearing?


Lady Gaga, Madonna or Victoria Beckham – weaves and hair extensions are part of any diva’s fashionable must-haves. The natural-hair weaves and extensions have always been in fashion and have helped change looks and create fashion statements. But do you know where the hair for the extension and weaves come from?

In a sleepy small town in the state of Tamil Nadu in South India, Lakshmi has taken a vow that she will go to the Temple in Tirupati and shave her hair off so her family’s debts get cleared. The debts have now been settled. She has to now make a pilgrimage to the temple town of Tirupati to pray to Lord Venkateshwara or Lord Vishnu, thank Him for blessing her family and shave her hair off to keep her end of the bargain.

Every year thousands of devotees like Lakshmi, who practice Hinduism as a religion, come to the Tirupati temple to seek blessings of the Lord and donate their hair as a sacrifice in return for a wish fulfilled by the Lord.

The process of shaving is highly organized. It takes place in a clean room where volunteers with disposable razors shave off the hair of the devotees.

The hair is then sold off at an auction. With the growing popularity and advances in technology, the auction itself has now gone on-line with bidders from UK, Japan and the US joining the fray to buy natural Indian hair.

The hair is classified based on its length, texture, colour and quality. The prices also vary according to the quality. The hair undergoes various stages of chemical treatment before it is exported out of India, primarily from the Chennai port which is a hub for hair exports.

From there, it reaches different wig makers and hair-extension makers all over the globe. Movie stars, supermodels, celebrities and regular women all use hair extensions and weaves to look the part and enhance their style quotients.

One person’s faith may just be another’s fashion statement.


Photo: Flicker user young shanahan

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