Pune: The Maharashtra Andhashraddha Nirmulan Samiti (MANS), the body of rationalists who have been working against superstition, are carrying out a campaign against the matted hair superstition, a belief that development of matted or tangled hair is a sign of curse. The MANS rescued another woman in their campaign against this practice on Wednesday.
Reshma Bahot, from Ghorpadi, developed matted hair and sought help to get rid of it, but even parlour professionals refused to cut it out. She was also not getting employed because of it and she spent more than Rs 80,000 in superstitious rituals. After she got in touch with the MANS through the Khadki police, she was counselled and her tangled hair was cut off.
In many parts of Maharashtra and southern India, tangled hair, which is nothing but a lump of hair that forms due to lack of hygiene or exposure of hair to sticky substance like mud, tree sap, is considered a curse from the gods and the woman is condemned or ostracised. This has been the root of the Devdasi tradition in which such women were sexually exploited.
In its campaign that began this year, the MANIS has already rescued more than 50 women from this superstition. These women had developed tangled hair and were facing stigma. The MANS explained them the scientific reasons behind it and cut off the tangled hair.
Nandini Jadhav of MANS said this superstition is unfounded and makes the women suffer a stigma for no reason. “Basic hygiene and care of hair is enough to avoid development of matted hair. But sometimes, due to some conditions, matted hair might develop. If not for this superstition, this can be taken care of easily,” Jadhav said. She said almost 20 more women are in touch with them and are being counselled to cut off the tangled hair without fearing retribution.