| Sunday, February 26, 2012, Chandigarh, India |
Devotees’ hair makes Tirumala richer by Rs 200 crSuresh Dharur/TNSHyderabad, February 25
It truly is a hair-raising story. Human hair offered by devotees at Andhra Pradesh’s Tirumala Temple has generated a huge demand in the global market.
E-auctioning of the humble offerings of the pilgrims has fetched the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (TTD), an autonomous body managing the affairs of the country’s richest temple, a whopping Rs 200 crore in 2011-2012 as against Rs 54 crore last year.
Human hair is broadly divided into five categories depending on length and texture. The hair is used to make wigs. Remy hair, which is long and uniformly trimmed hair, has a big market in Europe and the US, where it is woven into wigs.
The non-remy hair, broken and short, has huge demand in China, which in turn makes wigs and sells it in the American or African market, especially Nigeria. In the domestic market, Tirumala hair is popular in Mumbai for making wigs for film stars.
Phase I of the e-auctioning held last September fetched Rs 130 crore while Phase II yesterday brought in Rs 70 crore. The auctions were conducted jointly by the TTD and Material Scrap Trading Corporation by inviting global tenders.
While 466 tonnes of hair was sold in Phase I, over 95 tonnes of hair found takers yesterday. The highest price quoted during the first auction was marked as the upset price during Phase II. This was done to safeguard the interests of the institution but also prevent the bidders from forming cartels.
A majority of pilgrims visiting the abode of Lord Venkateswara tonsure their heads and offer the hair to the Lord, a practice in vogue for centuries. The shrine attracts over 50,000 pilgrims a day and the number crosses 1 lakh on weekends and special occasions.
At peak times, 45,000-50,000 people get their heads tonsured daily at the TTD’s 16 tonsuring halls, two of which run round-the-clock. The daily average of 800 kg of hair harvested could easily cross a 1,000 kg on weekends and in peak season. There are nearly 650 barbers in the TTD, including 60 women, and each of them could shave off an average of 60 heads in a six-hour shift.
The next e-auction is to be held after three months. e-auction Increases revenue
Astounding 561 tonnes of hair sold during auction
Hair traders from across the globe participated
Hair accounts for the second biggest source of temple revenue
Temple earned highest revenue (`675 crore) last year from “hundi” collections