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Dreadlocks: Religious, fashion, or pain?

Updated: Jan 2, 2021

Dreadlocks also commonly known as dreads, locs or “Jata” in Sanskrit have become a very common sight these days as compared to when I was a kid and it was considered taboo. Still, dreadlocks are considered as something off-limits, and having one makes you a nerd with many prying eyes trying to assess you.

I have just one behind my head and anytime I keep my hair open it is definite that a random person would turn up asking to touch it.

Well before I move any further on sharing my dreadlock opinion and experience, lets first dig into its history (which is quite interesting)-

The history of dreadlocks is rich and varied, majorly depending on who is the narrator.

One of the many beliefs related to its origination is that it was first worn by the Indian deity Lord Shiva and his followers. This is also why dreadlocks have gained a spiritual repo in the Indian society, basically associating dreads with “Sadhus”. Contrary to the concept of its Indian origination, many historians claim to have cited it first in the Egyptian society, proof being, some of the mummies have been recovered with dreadlocks.

Regardless of where the dreads originated, this fashion has been embraced by almost all cultures at one point in time. Right from Romans, Germanic tribes, and Vikings to Monks of Ethiopia and Nazarites of Judaism, all of them have experimented with this hairstyle of course having their reasons in mind.

What was my reason for having a dreadlock?

Once I had this nosy coworker who was quite persistent on getting an answer to his question “why did you get a dreadlock, do you find it fashionable?”

I haven’t answered him yet but I do know that it is not a fashion statement for me. Or if you say that I have a religious motive then even that can’t be true. My dedication to having a dreadlock came from my passionate love for Japanese anime. Anime characters have ropes, beads, dreadlocks and even various colors on their hair and the least I could do anything close to it was having a dread.

What was my experience of getting it done?

My dreadlock experience is an interesting story in itself. I reside in Delhi and in India, if you want to get a dreadlock then either Goa or the ghats of Varanasi are told to be the most ideal places. Well with the time constraint and demanding job schedule visiting any of these places couldn’t be a possibility for me so I searched for dread makers in Delhi and came across this person named dread stark (Part British, part Indian). His charges were 600Rs per dread but I went on my birthday so he did it for free (Lucky me!). He started by giving me some basic instructions and literally took a small counseling session ensuring that I won’t repent my decision later. Few of his words that time were-

  • Are you sure you want it done? If yes, then get only one dread as a sample and manage it first.

  • I hope you know that dreads are static and pull loose hair into it making them entangled badly.

  • Don’t think that you cannot wash your hair if you have dreads.

  • I am making the dread at the back of your head so that you can cut it off if you don’t like it anymore.

All these statements made me double think my decision and filled me with nervousness. But then I went on with it, thinking how bad it can become over time.

Now the biggest question is- Dreadlocks: Religious, fashion, or pain?

You might be getting the point of “religious” and “fashion” but does the word “pain” makes you wonder, why?

When stark gave me all those instructions (rather warning), dreads definitely sounded more like pain instead of a fun thing but I never took that seriously. Now it has been one year since I have had a dread at the back of my head and it is indeed a high maintenance thing.

  • I am still unsure if I should wash it or not.

  • It has to be tucked and repaired every 4 months but I couldn’t get it done even once (time issue).

  • Baby hairs keep getting entangled to it so I always have slight pain in that area.

  • Because of sleeping more on my left side, the dread becomes flat, losing its original shape.

  • Using clips and rubber bands pull out hair from it (I have very long hair which has to be kept tied).

  • I have to keep it covered with threads and ribbons so that it doesn’t get mixed and entangled with my other hair.

People who follow it as a religious or cultural criterion live in those dedicated groups and get ready help when it comes to repairing each other’s dreads. But, if you are a busy person living in a fixed schedule of 10 am to 7 pm job then dreads can become tiring especially if you lose interest in it over time.

In my case, I am still very much pro towards getting more dreads, and even if I have so many problems yet I only look forward to getting advice over the same rather than cutting my dread off.

P.S- I have started to learn how to knit a new dread and repair the old ones… After all, it is best to acquire exclusive skills related to something that you dearly hold close to your heart.

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