Delhi

Hair and how

The economic downturn may have dented India's exports in most sectors, but export of human hair continues to be buoyant. The global import of human hair during 2010 was US$ 1339 million, against which the exports were to the tune of $193.90 million.

China, Hong Kong, Brazil and Italy are among the top five markets for India, when it comes to human hair exports.

The Ministry of Commerce has stepped in to promote the export of human hair and exporters are being encouraged to take benefits of schemes such as Advance License Scheme, Duty Entitlement Passbook, Market Development Assistance and Market Access Initiative Scheme, among others. Exporters are also being encouraged to participate in trade fairs and exhibitions in various countries to procure new business opportunities.

The strong demand from China and Hong Kong is largely on account of the fact that the Chinese population mostly has straight hair, while Indian hair comes in different varieties and can be moulded to achieve different effects in hair accessories. However, the US, and Hollywood in particular, are also destinations for Indian hair that plays an important role in their makeover industry.

A large chunk of the hair exported comes from the ritual of hair tonsuring at the famous Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh where thousands of devotees offer their hair to Lord Venkateshwara every day. It is estimated that over a ton of hair is collected at the temple on a daily basis. Three to four times a year the temple authorities conduct a public auction where private companies buy the hair, process it and export it to various countries for use in salons and the cosmetic industry.

According to folklore the tonsuring ritual became a part of tradition when Lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, and a part of his head became bald. When Gandharva queen Neela Devi noticed this, she cut part of her hair and used her mystic powers to implant it on the Lord's head.

Thus began the ritual, which has made the Tirumala temple one of the wealthiest pilgrimage centers.

In India hair is also collected from salons and other places of worship, making it a vibrant hair industry.

Although both men and women offer their hair at temples, most of the hair that is exported for the lucrative salon business comes from women and is most in demand by merchants and wig-makers. Men's hair, according to exporters is mostly used for coat linings and raw material for a range of products.


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Printable version | Jun 20, 2021 10:25:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Delhi/hair-and-how/article2897596.ece

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