A ancient ritual
For over 5000 years, Hinduism has been entwined in the rich culture of India. For Hindus, every part of life is a sacrifice, a giving of oneself or ‘Jivayajna’ for which one receives true spiritual fulfilment. On a daily basis, devout pilgrims travel to temples across India to pay homage to their gods by making an offering to the temple.
Tirupati Venkateswara Temple (or the Temple of Seven Hills), is one of the largest and most popular of Hindu temples. Located on the top of Tirumala hills, this temple attracts thousands of worshippers a day from all over the world who queue up from early in the morning to late at night. Worshippers donate objects such as gold trinkets, personal possessions or their hair, a symbolic offering to show their devotion to the deity. This ritual shaving of one’s hair is known as tonsuring.
In the past, tonsuring was a symbol of repentance, a devotee would ask for forgiveness and their shaved head was a sign of starting a new life. Today, pilgrims make an oath with god and should their prayers be answered, they shave their heads as a precious sacrifice and sign of gratitude and faith.
A fair trade
Prior to the advent of hair extensions the donated hair was often used for the manufacture of oil filters for cars (the microscopic hair cuticles would trap impurities when compacted into a filter) or simply for the filling of mattresses to sleep on. Traditionally, no money changed hands in this process.
In more recent times, the production of wigs, toupees and later real hair extensions has created a market for the donated hair. The increased demand has meant that the temples fetch a good price in exchange for the hair and these funds are then used to aid the poor. Whilst those donating don’t receive monetary payments, the temples auction off the donated hair and make $100-400 per kilo of hair depending upon the quality. A small portion of this income is used for regular upkeep of the temple and pays the wages of the people that work there. The remaining money is invested into the local community, providing food, shelter and medical assistance to those in need.
All Great Lengths hair is 100% traceable and sourced directly from these temples. Learn more by watching this video.