The extra-temple hair trade

The temple hair trade story has been around for a while: each year approximately 20 million devotees visit the Venkateswara temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and have their heads shaved as an offering to the god.

So what happens to those millions and millions of heads of hair? Well, this is why the Tirupati temple is one of the richest in the world: the much-coveted, thick, Indian hair is sold around the world for use in wigs and hair extensions.

I was under the impression that most if not all of the hair involved in this hair trade comes from Tirupati and other temples, but apparently this is not at all the case:

"Temple hair or rather the idea of it has become fashionable in the West but you must remember that Tirupati and all the Indian temples together contribute only 20 out of every 100 locks of premium hair sold abroad in an extremely fast growing market," claims EVKS Elangovan, the Minister of State for Textiles and Commerce in Tamil Nadu where most of India's exported hair originates.

"Where the rest comes from we have no idea. In many cases we fear women are being exploited. There are growing concerns over the Indian hair trade. There are no specific restrictions on the import and export of human hair and can be done freely. This is obviously an environment that breeds illegality (The Observer)." 

So it turns out that "temple hair trade" is a misnomer; I don't know where Elangovan gets his 80%-20% divide, and even if that's not accurate, it seems to be the case that a significant amount of hair comes from teh extra-temple hair trade, so how exactly is this hair acquired? An industry seems to have built up in slums around Chennai, with women lining up each week to sell whatever hair they've managed to gather to a collector who then takes it to a factory for preparation. In other cases the collection is far less "voluntary:"

"I was held down by a gang of men who hacked at my hair," [19-year-old Uma] says. "I'm not the only one who has been attacked. I know other women who have been blackmailed and threatened to shave their own heads, in some cases their husbands have received money for their hair and ordered their wives to have their heads shaved. There is a lot of money to be made from hair not just from temples but from villages like ours, the police don't care, they will do nothing to protect women (The Observer)."

zReportage.com has more by way of information and pictures on the various aspects of the hair trade. 

I don't have much in the way of religious sentiment, but it surprised me when I first heard about the temple hair trade that no one was up in arms about the fact that the temples were selling off all of the hair that had been offered to the gods. When did this practice first start, and was everyone always so ho-hum about it?

The extra-temple hair trade disgusts me because it's yet another example of demand in developed countries spawning an industry which depends on the existence of poverty in developing countries.

Isn't it just a big ol' cop-out to say that the global market is providing the slum dwellers of Chennai with an opportunity to make an extra buck on the side? Can't the global market [be made to] do better for them? Can selling one's own hair really be considered a source of livelihood, even if it's just supplementary?

Lastly, how can we take seriously the talk (both by politicians in developing countries as well as those in developed countries) of erradicating poverty when we continue to create such industries which rely on poverty?

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Comments

hello my name is anthony n is

hello my name is anthony n is propietor the time hair imported end natural hair froom india, i need distruibuied, plase send me you list price.
my phone end fax is +55(19)32376991.
tank.
times hair, froom brasil

please send me some pics of

please send me some pics of shaved woman at tirupati or vidieos of bald woman

You have Internet access--don't ask us to find your fetish pornography for you :)

please send me some pics of

please send me some pics of shaved woman at tirupati or vidieos of bald woman

i DONT entirely agree with

i DONT entirely agree with this article. i think on both side the temples and the resalers are winners. Now the question is why do the temples get involved in such activities knowing they are offerings. Are they subject to keep them for a particular time and then resale them? is the income used for a particular way to alleviate proverty?

is the income used for a

is the income used for a particular way to alleviate proverty?

You raise a good point. I don't know. Know any good way to find out?

Also, the bulk of this piece was about the hair trade outside of temples. Was there anything there with which you disagreed?

I am looking to buy a ton of

I am looking to buy a ton of temple hair need samples i am ready to buy

I am looking to buy a ton of

I am looking to buy a ton of temple hair need samples i am ready to buy

Great. I am interested in buying the city of Tallahassee. But we can't all have what we want.

we are looking for any

we are looking for any information on temple hair,we will like to buy some.

Common folk are offering

Common folk are offering their hair at the temples in innocence (some may say ignorance), and temple preists are becoming fat off of it? I would think some sort of mass protest from the shaven head quarter is in order. Don't these people mind that their offerings are being profitted from or do they consider that a blessing as well?

I hope somehow the $$$ being made trickles back down to their original offerers.

Also, I know South Indian Brahmins are very strict about cleanliness and temple rules. I'm surprised that hair is even considered a fit offering in the temples.

I have dark brown hair,

I have dark brown hair, slightly past my shoulders.... probably more than the Dr. above, and am in need of cash.

Offer?

we are looking for any

we are looking for any information on temple hair,we will like to buy some.

I'm getting a haircut next week probably. What's your offer?

I am looking to buy a ton of

I am looking to buy a ton of temple hair need samples i am ready to buy

Great. I am interested in buying the city of Tallahassee. But we can’t all have what we want.

The difference is, Dr. Anonymous, that you will not be able to buy the city of Tallahassee but Florida Hair, WILL indeed be able to buy Indian hair.

probably more than the Dr.

probably more than the Dr. above

How do you know? I have a ton of hair. I'm a south asian man.

The difference is, Dr.

The difference is, Dr. Anonymous, that you will not be able to buy the city of Tallahassee but Florida Hair, WILL indeed be able to buy Indian hair.

Probably. But at least Florida Hair is a moron, which reduces the chances of successfully completing the task or at least subjecting the person to moron tax :)

we need for exports pls


we need for exports
pls quote cif mumbai in rs

regards

A.k.sadiwala

DEAR SIR, we need for

DEAR SIR,

we need for exports
pls quote cif mumbai in rs

regards

A.k.sadiwala

DEAR SIR, we need for

DEAR SIR,

we need for exports
pls quote cif mumbai in rs

regards

A.k.sadiwala

Dear Sir,

I am planning to get a haircut, possibly tomorrow. I can offer about 3 oz. of hair at a price of Rs 500 per ounce. It is part of our potpourri blend--some British hair may be mixed in.

hello! I am looking to buy a

hello! I am looking to buy a ton of temple hair.. the hair must be natural and tangelfree. need samples i am ready to buy…

I am looking to buy hair from Christian churches/barbershops in the Occident. Maybe we can trade?

hello! I am looking to buy a

hello! I am looking to buy a ton of temple hair.. the hair must be natural and tangelfree. need samples i am ready to buy...

I want to buy the hair from

I want to buy the hair from the temple....Has anyone had any luck with that?

hi i want to start my own

hi i want to start my own hair wig ang medical hair systhem business i need to start my if interested business with me can good for you iplease reply need prices onhair volume.

hi i want to start my own

hi i want to start my own human hair wig and medical hair wig business i would like to do businesss need prices on merchandise businsss is very good

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