zydenbos at zydenbos at
Sat Mar 29 01:03:24 UTC 1997

Replies to msg 28 Mar 97: indology at (mmdesh at

 me> =09"Sikhaa (or "se.n.dii in Marathi) was indeed a sign of
 me> Brahmanhood
 me> untill recently.  Growing hair was considered a sign of
 me> westernization and
 me> I have been told of the stories of my father's
 me> confrontations with my
 me> grandfather on this issue.  Indeed when I was growing up in
 me> Poona, wearing
 me> a "sikhaa was basically done by the ultra-orthodox Brahmins
 me> and
 me> functioning priests, and the few boys in my school who did
 me> continue this
 me> practice were severely ridiculed by others.  I remember that
 me> after my own
 me> Upanayana ceremony at the age of eight, which was the only
 me> time I had this
 me> "sikhaa, I was too ashamed to show my head in the school,
 me> and suffered
 me> some ridicule until my hair grew back to their normal
 me> length.  

My father-in-law shaved off his ju.t.tu at a rather early age, and this was
resented by the relatives in the village; his eldest brother wore one
throughout his life, and his second brother still wears his. But his sons, my
brothers-in-law, have "gone to the dogs" completely: they wear shirts,
trousers, and certainly no ju.t.tu. This sense of embarrassment is, as one may
expect, determined by a number of factors, personal and environmental. I know
people in big cities like Mysore and Bangalore who sport splendid ju.t.tu-s
without the least embarrassment. But for real ju.t.tu artistry, one should go
to Melkote.

Perhaps in Pune too there is what we might call the "surreptitious ju.t.tu"
which is frequently seen in urban Karnataka: a man seems to have a headful of
ordinary hair, but if you observe closely, you find a small knot of longer hair
at the back of his head, visible only if you know what to look for... This is
typical of those who in their heart of hearts are orthodox, but who think that
their social position, or whatever, demands that they should follow modern

Robert Zydenbos
Internet: zydenbos at

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