A Hairy Tale of Indian Moustaches
If you have traveled to the rural areas of India, you sure would have spotted men with long moustaches and beards. It is one of the oldest tradition in India, considered to be a symbol of virility, power and a strong personality.
I wanted to write on this for a long time, the fancy, dyed, preened moustaches of the rickshaw drivers, stall owners or the elite, facial hair was important to Indian males. Yes, it was, as things are rapidly changing in modern India.
I read about this book called ‘Hair India – A Guide to the Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan’ written by Richard McCallum and Chris Stowers, which talks about how this age-old tradition is fading away.
This unusual book divides facial hair into groups including “the chin strap”, “the soup strainer”, “the wing commander” and “the walrus”. I wonder what a walrus would look like? Moustaches actually become part of a person’s identity.
Some of the pictures include both the world’s longest beard, measuring six foot long, and the world’s longest moustache, at 11 foot six inches. In fact the latter, a 54-year old man, has been used in movies and he charges modelling fees as well.
If you have observed, hotel doormen generally have head-turning moustaches, I think they are only hired if they have one. However, the younger generation prefers the clean look, influenced by celebrities and sports personalities, placing the old practice under threat. Mind you, majority of the South Indian actors still have bushy and frightful moustaches.
“Young people don’t want an itchy moustache or beard which they think makes them look old,” said Lalan Singh, 40, a restaurant doorman in Delhi’s Connaught Place and the owner of a handlebar moustache that took three years to grow, could be one of the last of his kind.
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