Friday, 4 November 2011


Tresses, curls, locks - all beautiful words for a beautiful part of ourselves – our crowning glory, hair.

Rapunzel (Courtesy Internet)
Hair plays an important part in the overall appearance of a person, and beautiful hair often indicates beautiful people. Literary physical descriptions of persons usually include hair – its colour, condition, length, texture. And some characters in legends and stories are remembered for their special hair. Like Rapunzel, who was locked up in a high tower without steps by a witch, and whose hair was the only way to reach the tower. The prince who loved her climbed up the length of her hair which she threw down from the window of the tower. Can you imagine the length and strength of that delightful mane?

Lady Godiva (Courtesy Internet)
Lady Godiva covered herself with her long tresses to ride through the town. Her husband the rich lord had said that if she rode naked through the town, he would reduce taxes for the commoners. Her hair served as a cloak, and not even the lone person who dared to peep out as she rode by (all the villagers had vowed to close their doors and windows and stay inside) could see anything but her hair. Now see how handy long hair is?

Samson and Delilah (Courtesy Internet)
Samson’s very strength was in his long hair, and when the bewitching Delilah, learnt his secret, she told his enemies where his strength lay. They cut his hair and the poor man was left a weak and broken man.

In art too our own Ravi Varma has painted goddesses and women with long flowing hair, just as his European counterparts like Botticelli (Birth of Venus) have.
Ravi Varma's Mohini (Courtesy Internet)

Botticelli's Birth of Venus (Courtesy Internet)
Till recently women wore their hair long, and considered it a thing of beauty, caring for it, and grooming it well. A hundred strokes with the brush before bed was an assured form of getting that shine. Brushing ensures that the hair is tangle free and massages the scalp as well. The other use the hairbrush was put to need not be mentioned here.

Persis (Courtesy Internet)
Long or short, women are fascinated with the styling and grooming of hair. If it is curly, we want it straight. If straight, we want it wavy.  And no, not everyone can look as charming as Persis Khambatta did, without hair. She shaved her head for a movie role and still looked great.

 I used to long for wavy hair, I remember, and hated it when the ends of my plaits stuck out like broomsticks. While as children we suffered the weekly oil massage and following wash, we now realise now that it helps bring a rush of blood  to the roots and stimulate them. During the days I was growing up, there was a biweekly ritual of massaging the head with coconut oil (which was heated with powdered peppercorns) and then washing it off with shikakai or the paste of Bengal gram powder. This kept the hair soft and silky. We also washed our hair daily with plain water. I still do it, though the biweekly massage seems to have become bi annual! Well almost.

Here is a real life Rapunzel, my friend from college days. Her hair was long, thick and she wore them in two plaits reaching right down to her thighs. She put sambrani in her hair after washing it, and it smelt so divine. In the picture you see only one of her plaits. The one alongside her is me, with my pigtail hanging behind modestly.

 Washing the oil off has become simpler with so many shampoos available. I remember when I went to Manchester in the early 70s I was amazed at the number of shampoos in the shops. And I indulged myself by trying out a different one each time. At home here, there was only Tata’s shampoo, which came in the same type of bottle as the Tata hair oil. Many a laughter riot took place when my grandfather mistook the shampoo for the oil, and ended up with a head full of bubbles.

In Kerala and Bengal, women are blessed with lustrous long hair. I have wondered if the fish eating habits in these regions have contributed to this.  Definitely, healthy eating habits contribute to healthy shining hair, if not to the texture or thickness. Lots of greens and protein are a sure way to bring that sheen to you hair.

Born in Kerala, I spent many years outside the state, till finally settling down in Chennai after marriage. I have not cut my hair but let it grow. Gray now, it falls down to my thighs, but sadly, lacks the thickness it used to have in my young days. I used to trim it to hip length regularly to keep the ends even. Now I require the extra length to hold it when I put up my hair, to make up for the lack of thickness. My seven year-old granddaughter is however impressed, and longs to grow her own. She has silky straight hair, but it is kept short for easy management.

I still love massaging, oiling my hair and shampooing it regularly. I am looking forward to using the products in this delightful hamper. 


Asha said...

that's lovely hair for your age. even my mom has such lengthy hair at 67. Infact she is called 'Kesavardhini' since her name is vardhini.

But I and my sis have to take great care to bring volume to our hair.

It is scary to see women go bald(alopecia) these days.

and yes i too love the fragrance of sambrani to dry our hair .

Indian Citizen Ranting said...

Cool post and best of luck with the competition. Please find my posts here:

Haircules Speaketh!

Love is two way street

Please promote / vote for them if you find them interesting.

GeetS said...

nice hair...all the v best!!

Hair Hair Hair

lalli said...

super RM..enakkum ipdi thaan irundhathu but avlo thick irukkathu..lengthy ah irukkum..hmmm gone are da days..:( pora pokka paatha antha photola irukira ponna pola aayiduven pola irukku..!!!

lalli said...

super RM..enakkum ipdi thaan irundhathu but avlo thick irukkathu..lengthy ah irukkum..hmmm gone are da days..:( pora pokka paatha antha photola irukira ponna pola aayiduven pola irukku..!!!

lakshmi said...

Raji, your hair reminds me of my mothers's , Ankichi periamma's , it was so long , dow below the hip and even now, considering her age , it is only little grey. you take after her Ithink.Both Akka and I do not have such long hair. Pity, nne f us took any photo f her hai, it was really very long.
Lakshmi Ram

Maiji said...

Wonderful blog connecting Reality with Fairy Tales and Legends and Godiva, the lesson we had to study in our middle school

Gowri Mohanakrishnan said...

That was a lovely read - flowed as smoothly as those wonderful manes you describe.


Asha - thanks. Long hair is also a matter of genes, just like curls. :).
Ranting Indian, GeetS, thanks and wish you all the best, too.
Lalli, I found that my hair grew more when I did not study!
Lakshmi, who can deny the beauty of Ankichi Periyamma's hair - her hair is still at 90 plus so long and black.
Maiji, Gardenia. glad you liked the post.

bemoneyaware said...

Amazing start...liked the references that you used for hair..Lady Godiva etc. Nice use of images. Thoroughly enjoyed your post

GamingGarage said...

Well written post :) Very nice article..
all d best wishes. :)
Hope u like and promote my post "The Girl i loved"
Check out sure ul like my post.

Indian Citizen Ranting said...

How come you did not take part in Surf Excel contest?

Aye Zindagi!


Ranting Indian, I would have had I had the extra two hours in my day! :)

Indrani said...

Whoa! You have such long hair! Reminds me of couple of friends in IAF who had such lengthy hair and the tough time they had managing it and tying up in to huge buns at the nape of their neck, yet they managed to do it well. I think one has to love and nurture them to have such good quality.

I like the way you connected fables and reality. So well written. Fantastic read!

Leovi said...

Very interesting. I dry with a towel to rub the hair pass. However, the dryers are very harmful.

Meera's World said...

Very nice article raji:, I loved it. You are right, i have wavy hair and i always wanted straight hair!!I think using coconut oil for hair has something to do with the thick,long hair most keralites has. Who knows...

Maddy said...

in Kerala indulekha oil is the 450/- per small bottle, the makers are minting money..

these days fish & coconut oil don't do the trick it seems

Gauri Gharpure said...

You have such beautiful long hair!

What is sambhrani? My aaji used to add camphor to coconut oil sometimes. This is the first time i have heard about boiling the oil with peppercorns, how does it help, and doesn't it burn?


Thanks - bemoneyaware, Indrani, Leovi, Meera and Maddy.

Gauri Gharpure - Thanks. I don't think the pepper hurts since it is used in moderation. I am not able to find the equivalent of sambrani in either Hindi or English! Am still hunting.

Anonymous said...

Sambrani is dhoop