Tirumala, 20 September 2015: Tirumala is eye of the fashion moguls of the world not only for the glittering festivities, grandeur of the jewelry decked deities but also for the shining black hair donated by the millions of devotees of Lord Venkateswara. Prominent Bollywood and Hollywood actresses and actors have a great crush for wigs and hair extensions made from the tonsured hair donated by millions of devotees at Tirumala.

Tonsuring of head and offer hair is one of the most popular vows at the Tirumala hill shrine as millions of devotees take that route as a redemption of their vows for the fulfillment of their wishes by Lord Venkateswara.

The ‘Tirupati’ brand of hair, the shining char coal black long strides of hair are sold as hot cake in the fashion markets of Paris and London. The human hair offered to Lord Venkateswara by millions of men and women in 2015 and and e-auctioned by TTD had earned a whopping Rs.810 crore in view of spiraling international prices in the fashion world. ‘ What the regular tendering process earned us was just Rs.40 crore while the e-auctioning has brought transparency in trade and huge revenues of nearly Rs.240 crore per bid ” says Sri K S Srinivasa Raju, the Joint Executive Officer of TTD.

Annually over 1.30 crore pilgrims(i.e.70 % of devotees coming to Tirumala)offer their hair to Lord Venkateswara at the two major Kalyana Kattas and nine other mini- kalyana kattas.On June 13 last a record 73,000 devotees offered hair and the TD gathered 370 tons of hair this year and the number of barbers in TTD including that of women barbers has been on the rise.’Now We have some volunteers from Srivari Seva serving as barbers at Tirumala to clear the festival rush’ says Smt Devi Sarojini The Deputy Executive officer in charge of Kalyana Kattas.

The temple administration has started monthly auctions from March 2015 in order to cash in on international prices and also retain the value of the freshly tonsured hair TTD segregates the human hair into six categories going by the length and texture of the human hair before going into e-auction.

While the first variety hair is above 31 inches in length, the second variety is between 16-30 inches, the third variety between 10-15 inches, the fourth variety between 5-9 inches and the fifth variety less than five inches length. Grey hair or white hair is the sixth variety. While the long strides fetch highest rate,other fetch average rate depending on global price fluctuations and demand in fashion markets now making inroads into Asian and American fashion world as well.

The TTD launched e-auctioning of hair in consultation with the MSTC( material scrap trading corporation)in 2011 to beat the syndicate who suppressed the prices to floor level. TTD went into monthly e-auctioning of its stock and has so far conducted 15 e-auctions of hair in the current year.

Indian hair, particularly Tirupati hair was a major attraction at European and Asian markets known for wigs, hair extensions due to its long strides,shining black hair,curlers and the popular variety of Remy. Private parties were dealing with tonsuring of hair since 1938 but since 1985 TTD has taken over the Kalyana Kattas and also sale of human hair. While select agents were dealing with hair auctions since then the TTD began e-auctioning since 2011 leading to massive revenues to the institution.

Indian hair is in high demand for wig making and hair extensions because it is both “thin and strong,”explains one of the country’s largest exporters of hair from Chennai. ‘ The Tamil devotees top in tonsuring and hair revenue to Lord’ says a TTD official.