This weekend there was a Locks Of Love charity event put on by Tony Pedregon Racing at the summit Racing NHRA Nationals in Norwalk Ohio. Supporters lined up to have 10 inches or more cut from their hair to be used to create wigs for those who have lost their hair due to medical ailments. There were also auctions etc to raise money for Locks Of Love. The idea for this event came from Tony’s young daughter, who gave something around 10 inches of hair herself!
This got me thinking about a trip to India that I was supposed to take in March of last year. Seems like a stretch I know, but stay with me here.
One of my brothers lived in Bangalore for 3 years, running operations for an international bank. I had planned on taking my little guy for a visit at the end of that 3 years, thinking he would better remember and absorb it all if I waited til he was 7. We were all set to go after months of teaching my boy about India, feeding him the cuisine, and getting him all prepped, when wouldn’t you know it, my brother had to move back to Sydney a month earlier than originally planned. The trip had to be cancelled, and we didn’t get to go.
I have had a fascination with India for many years. I find the culture intriguing, love the food and the people and the history. From an artistic point of view I think the women are incredibly beautiful, I love their saris, their make up, the inner strength and peace in their faces. And I love Bollywood.
Anyway, with my great love of rituals and pageantry, one of the things I had planned to do while in India, was to travel to Andhra Pradesh to Tirupati, to Tirumala, the world’s most visited site of pilgramage.
There are some 3000 steps to take. (like I would have ever survived that!)
I may have some facts confused here, but it is my understanding that Lord Venkateswara, one of the forms of the hindu god Vishnu is in residence at the temple.
Many of the pilgrams top the visit off with what is called “tonsuring”. The women wear their best saris, in shades of bright pink, orange and turquoise, and line up for hours outside the temple’s tonsuring room to have their heads shaven, in the belief that by doing so the God will grant them their wish. Some get tonsured as a sign of gratitude for blessings in their lives, and historically the act of tonsuring is done as a sign of completely surrendering one’s ego at the feet of the lord.
Both men and women get tonsured, and little kids too.
This family sits patiently after being tonsured. (I would still be complaining about the walk up…) Sometimes after the weight of such long, thick hair is removed the women get dizzy and have a hard time standing back up.
The hair is collected, washed and treated and sold to become wigs and hair pieces. Temple hair as it is called, is considered to be the highest quality hair available. The glossy, healthy, waist length hair has never been treated with anything harsher than Ayurvedic soaps and oils, and becomes the most lush, exquisite hair extensions and pieces.
There is such a huge market for temple hair that approximately 500 tons of it is harvested and sold at auction from Tirumala each year at top prices. The temple consequently has extraordinary wealth, which it pours back into the community.
I am sure some of the wigs and falls that I own must have come from temple hair. Maybe not from Tirumala, but from any of the temples in India that perform tonsuring.
So I missed the trip to Bangalore, missed staying at the Leila Palace, missed staying at my brother’s beautiful home, missed touring the sites with my sister in law and their much loved driver, Ramu. Seeing it all thru pictures just isn’t quite the same.
I know that the spectacular visual impact of India and its people would have left me so inspired.
But inspiration can also come in the form of a pint sized little girl who not only was willing to give up her own hair to help another, but also had the drive to make an event out of it, get her family involved and raise money and collect hair for Locks of Love.
I don’t know if they are still taking donations, but if you would like to help check out www.tonypedregon.com
If you would like more information about Tirumala check out this great blog by Esben Agersnap at www.eagersnap.blogspot.com