“When a woman decides to cut off all her hair, she discovers something underneath that is liberating.
It can be therapeutic because you let go of the idea that you need these superficial extras to feel beautiful.”
– Emon Fowler
It wasn’t a passing whim or a fleeting fancy I caught on to, when I chose to shave off my head on 11 October, this month.
Three years ago, my now 23 year-old daughter had shaved off her hair. It was her homage to my mother who had passed over to cancer that year, and a bid to let go and start anew. I was supremely tempted to do so too. I had mostly made up my mind to give her company. But the day I chose to do the needful, I was dissuaded by someone’s then appealing advice.
How often do we give in to other’s voices and not to our own inner voices, when we are called to?
But things are different for me now. I am the new and truest version of myself.
I read somewhere too:
“You don’t know the new me. I put the pieces differently.”
Zoom in to 2021
An Interfaith Peace Pilgrimage and the Timelessness of Being
I was at a surreal 10-day InterFaith Peace pilgrimage to Kashmir and Ladakh with a bunch of kindred souls, including my dear friend and teacher, Nithya Shanti, this August.
The pilgrimage was divine, yet deeply cleansing. A lot of emotions from the past and most likely from many life times surfaced. These called out to be deeply cleansed. While I felt uplifted and in synch with the signs from the universe; the churn I experienced was painful at different levels.
The altitude also plays tricks with the mind. Even when one is back to base, to one’s terrain; it takes a few weeks of getting used to.
Early this year, I experienced sudden grief and loss, of my only brother passing over, followed by a sudden surgery which took months to recover. My body and soul was definitely communicating and telling me to take it slow.
Ma Tara’s Grace
Upon my return from the pilgrimage, between managing the home front and confronting and becoming one with my experiences as, “I’m the sky, everything else is weather;” I felt a deep sense of purpose that egged me on.
I had multiple mystical experiences of grace on the pilgrimage which I shall be writing about in the days to come. One was with the Buddhist Goddess Tara, the Goddess of fast compassion; at a time when I felt incapacitated to even move my body.
After the incredibly moving journey to the Buddhist land of Leh-Ladakh, and under Nithya’s meaningful guidance we had begun chanting different Buddhist mantras, including the Tara mantra. We were also studying, meditating and imbibing the deep values of the Bodhicitta practise of compassion towards all beings, and paying homage to the Rainbow Body masters. We were also graced by a wonderful session by Venerable Thubten Chodron Damcho, hosted by Nithya; on how the Goddess, Mother Tara protects us from 8 dangers.
Chop Goes the Weasel
Early October, on an evening walk with a like-minded friend, who happened to share similar sentiments about shaving off hair; I brought up the topic how I wished to go bald, some day. One of my deepest desires from early this year has been to spend time meditating in a monastery. Thereafter recently, I felt even more inspired to shave my head seeing the Buddhist monks and nuns, including Venerable Thubten Chodron.
Little did I know the universe was tuning in to my thoughts, and would prod me to manifest it in days to come. On a lazy Sunday afternoon, I had made up my mind. I was taking my first lecture on writing and blogging, on Monday for Post graduate students of a Mass communication university, in Banglore. I then went on to set up an appointment with the hair dresser for the evening, once I wrapped up my session.
11th October, 2021, was a beautiful festive day. It was also Shosthi, the first day of pujos leading to Vijay Dashmi or Dusherra. This is a week long celebration of Goddess Durga’s victory over evil, and ours too; of letting go of all our flaws and misdeeds, and that which no longer serves us. Dusherra celebrates King Ram’s victory over Ravana, translating to a similar philosophy.
My mother used to fast for my brother and I on Shosthi, like most Bengali mothers do for their children on this day. I never did, as I felt praying for my girls every single day was enough. This time I chose to. I felt my prayers for my daughters and all the children of the world must reach the deity. Fasting is a beautiful cleanse of the body, mind and soul too.
After a supremely enriching 2-hour session (initially meant to be just an hour) with the enthusiastic post grads; chit-chatting, teaching and learning at the same time; I was ready to go under the scissor and blade.
My soul felt uplifted and light. This was a day dedicated to the future generation who we owe so much and need to pay back in our own little ways.
Letting Go, Homage to the Ancestors and Giving Back
The entire process of shaving my head was seamless, thanks to my friend who owns the salon, and who painstakingly makes sure I have the most befitting and comfortable experience each time I visit.
This time I had chosen not to speak about my intention to anybody except the DH, my two girls, and my Father who happened to be visiting the previous week. As always they were open and accepting to my choices. I did not want my intention to be clouded by opinions, therefore I chose to keep it personal.
I was ready to honour myself and a long cherished wish.
How the Deed was Done
As the process started, I played and chanted Ma Tara’s mantra and kept thinking of Venerable Thubten Chodron’s kind face and resplendent aura.
Not for a moment did I feel a sense of loss, or anxiety towards this unknown path I had chosen to tread. Winters were around the corner. A year or two back I would have delayed the process thinking how my head and ears would cope with the cold. I mostly like to keep my hair long in winters, and also wear a hat to protect myself from the cold.
It felt deeply liberating to not give in to any of these thoughts. As the hair gently fell away from my scalp, I felt as though I was merging with the divine and my true self was emerging, much like the Phoenix from the ashes. The hair dresser thereafter ran the shaving blade through the empty scalp, giving it a smooth after effect.
Thanks to my mother, and her “mustard pillow” magic for the baby me, I have a well rounded, shapely head. Mustard pillows are made of mustard seeds and they ensure the head turns out smooth and round, and not bumpy and unshapely. This is an old world trick that we also used on our two daughters.
You may ask, why did I shave off my head?
I have already cited some of the reasons, but here they are briefly:
1. To let go of what wasn’t serving me any more. Past baggages, traumas, beliefs, patterns, ego, people, or past life cycles; and to become one with my higher self.
2. A homage to my brother, Abhijit and my mother, Sumitra who crossed over the rainbow in a span of just 3 years, recently. It is also a homage to my ancestors known and unknown because of whom, I’m here.
3. A tribute and act of asking for forgiveness to my daughters and all the children of the world who have faced this pandemic with utter resilience and indomitable spirit. The pandemic is an aftermath of our generation’s callousness; for exploiting and showing utter disregard towards this beautiful planet which was lovingly preserved by past generations. It’s my tiny drop in the sea of forgiveness, to show my solidarity and love for our future generation.
4. My hair was really short, and I was not too sure I would be able to donate it for a cause, despite having a deep desire to do so. But by divine grace and thanks to a few soul friends, I found Hair Crown, in Chennai, who even accept short hair for children who have undergone chemotherapy. How beautiful can it get!
No, I wasn’t worried my hair was falling. Or that it was unmanageable. Neither was I wanting to be a rebel girl and just shave my hair, for the heck of it. It’s just that the above reasons called out to me divinely.
The Side Effects of a Baldpate
I feel lighter, happier, and one with myself. When I walk outdoors, I walk with a far more confident gait than I ever have. A notch higher than when I had all my hair! I do notice people look at me incredulously sometimes. I’ve been sent messages if all is well with my health, as I seem to have dropped weight too. I was prepared for those questions, those surprised looks; as I knew they were bound to come my way. On the other hand, I have friends who look at me in awe. They tell me how much they have wished to do this too.
I also went on a tech-detox 6 days before the deed was done. It has felt fabulous to be away from social media and my phone. I travelled with mi familia for a few days. I recently did plug back in to Instagram, though I open it once or twice a day. Maybe today I should go ahead and once again delete it.
Then I’ll be saying again, “Chop goes the weasel…” 😉
It’s good to be back after a longish hiatus. Hope you have been doing good?
Be well amigos and amigas.
Love, light and laughter always.