Proof That Indian Hair Itself is a Sacrifice
There has been recent discussion among Rabanim whether Indian hair is permitted for the Jewish people to use in wigs. Some Rabanim argue that when a Hindu person shaves their head at their temple, the act of shaving the hair is the sacrifice, not the hair itself. That then makes the hair permitted to be used in our sheitels, since the hair is a by-product of the avodah zara, not the actual avodah zara. Many Rabanim rule against this view, saying the hair itself is avodah zara. They say the hair is a gift to the Hindu idol. Therefore, they rule that the appearance of one Indian hair in the sheitel makes the whole sheitel forbidden to wear or sell.
The Gemara says that avodah zara is never batel, so that is why the entire sheitel becomes forbidden (sources #18, 19). This author would like to present proof from websites, written and explained by the Hindu people themselves, that 2 intentions are possible when a Hindu shaves their hair at their temple.
The first intention is for the hair to be a gift to their god. A popular one is “lord Balaji.” There is a legend that goes along with this gift of hair, proving the hair is intended to be a physical gift to their god. (This reason is in-line with the rabbinical view mentioned in paragraph 2). The second reason the Hindus give for shaving their hair is that the act of shaving their head sacrifices their ego by decreasing the person’s beauty. (This reason is inline with the rabbinical view mentioned in paragraph 1.) Both reasons are given in these Hindu websites written by Hindu people. Sometimes the first reason is given, sometimes the second reason, and sometimes both. If the hair donation takes place because it is a thanksgiving offering or a gift in hopes of their god fulfilling a wish that would make the resulting hair actual avodah zara (source #18).
Regardless of the devotee’s intention, as the hair is shaved from each person in line, it is grouped by length and added to the large bag with hair that contains that same length of hair. This results in the bag having hair from many people mixed together. The bags are purchased through e-auction by wig and hair extension companies. Please review the proofs below, which are direct quotes from the Hindu people about the intentions of the Hindu devotees. Also included are some news articles dealing with this topic. Most quotes pertain to showing that the Rabbinical view mentioned in paragraph 2 is a reality.
From Wikipedia Article titled, “Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala.” This is an online dictionary written by people knowledgeable in the topic at hand: Hair Tonsuring.
“Many devotees have their head tonsured as "Mokku", an offering to god… When lord Balaji was hit on his head by a shepherd, a small portion of his scalp became bald. This was noticed by Neela Devi, a Gandharva princess. She felt "such an attractive face should not have a flaw." Immediately, she cut a portion of her hair and, with her magical power, implanted it on his scalp. Lord Balaji noticed her sacrifice.
“As hair is a beautiful asset of the female form, he promised her that all his devotees who come to his abode would offer their hair to him, and she would be the recipient of all the hair received. Hence, it is believed that hair offered by the devotees is accepted by Neela Devi. The hill, Neeladri, one of the seven hills, is named after her.
Found at <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Venkateswara_Temple,_Tirumala>.
New York Times Article titled “A Religious Tangle Over the Hair of Pious Hindus” Written by Saritha Rai
“When she came to the temple three years ago, Ms. Subhasri, 35, offered her a waist-length hair to the temple deity, Venkateshwara, in a sign of absolute devotion. She then prayed that her husband, Satyanarayana Raju, be cured of his acute stomach ulcers.
Last week she was back, offering her hair again in thanks for the recovery of her husband, and saying a new prayer for the success of her older son, Veeraraju, 15. ''He has scored 490 marks out of 600 in his recent school exams and, god willing, he will be a doctor one day,'' Ms. Subhasri said, wiping her tears with one end of her sari…”
Please note: an immodest picture appears on the web page. That is why a link is not present.
From Stack Exchange, a Question and Answer Forum answered by Hindu People:
Question: Many Hindus who visit Tirumala Venkateswara temple in Tirupati get their head tonsured [shaved] and offer their hair to lord Venkateswara. Why is this tradition followed? Why is it only followed in Venkateswara temple and not other temples?
[Note to readers, from author of this report: Head tonsuring occurs at many other temples throughout India. However, Tirumala is the largest of them. The person asking the question doesn’t know that].
Answer: A small but popular story is there for this. When lord Sri Venkateshawara (MahaVishnu/Balaji) was inside the snake-antHill on Tirumala , one sacred cow is to come and give milk to the lord daily (Brahma took the form as sacred cow), When a cow-herd man at once saw the sacred cow pouring milk in the snake-ant Hill, he became angry and without understanding the truth, the Cow-herd man took the axe and has hit the cow on the cow’s head with the axe.
The Supreme lord Sri Venkatesha (Vishnu) who was present inside the snake-ant Hill received the hurt of the axe on his head from the cow-herd man instead of Cow getting hurt. When lord received the hurt of the Axe on his head, the portion of his hair on his head disappeared due to hurt by the axe. When mother Neela Devi saw lord being hurt on his head, she immediately removed the hair from her head and placed on the lord’s head in the portion where the lord was hurt. Immediately lord became well and Lord’s hair reappeared as beautiful as before he was hurt.
Lord Venkatesha (Vishnu), knowing that hair is one of the beautiful features of women, promised that his devotees will shave hair of their head (tonsure) and dedicate their hair to her. Neela Devi accepts the hair sacrificed by devotees of lord Venkatesha (Vishnu) and lord blesses his devotees who sacrifice their hair for the sake of the lord. This is the reason why devotees tonsure or shave their head in Tirumala. There are also Spiritual reasons: Tonsure or Shaving hair as offering for lord represents a real sacrifice of material beauty and giving up false-ego in the way of shaving their hair as the sacrifice to please supreme lord.
Found at: <https://hinduism.stackexchange.com/questions/3137/why-does-oneget-their-head-tonsured-and-offer-the-hair-to-lord-venkateswara-in>
From “Go Tirupati” Website. This website has information posted about visiting the temple, such as tonsuring hours, directions, accommodations, etc. Here is a screenshot taken from their webpage. They themselves bolded the sentence shown below on their website: Found at <https://www.gotirupati.com/tirumala-hair-offering-timings/>.
From a Question and Answer Forum for Hindu People on Quora:
Question: Why is it believed to do Mundan (donating Hair) to lord Tirupati Balaji? What is the story/significance behind it?