A trip to the temple town of Tirupati is always invigorating and spiritually elevating. One uneasy point in this spiritual odyssey was the concept of tonsuring the head. This was something which I was never comfortable with. How will I look? What people will comment seeing me? I survived a scare, narrowly escaping this ordeal last time when I visited this holy place. Few of my friends were very excited to offer their hair to Lord Venkateshwara and asked me, "Are you joining us?" I gave a reluctant 'no' and tried to explain, "You guys might have some 'mokku' to fulfill, I don't have anything like that." One of my friends quickly quipped, "No mokku, just want to feel my head without hair and want to post it as a special update on the facebook."
Mokku in Telugu, is a promise or vow given to the lord to offer him something, in some cases hair , in return for a favour received from him. In Tirumala, there is a long tradition of tonsuring the head in return for a favour received from the lord. The visit to the abode of seven hills always left a small uneasy question in my mind- Why this reluctance in shaving my head? Google bhagawan gave me some interesting and insightful answers. One particular answer amazed me- Hair adds beauty to one's personality and enhances vanity. Giving up hair is like letting go your ego and attachment to it which I am sure all know is not easy. Hence the inner significance of the ritual of head tonsure is to offer your ego and vanity at His lotus feet.
This explanation appealed to me and with a lot of internal tussle was getting ready for it in the next trip to the seven hills. An opportunity came knocking at my door to visit Tirupati again. I announced my intention to tonsure my head. All sorts of queries and cautious advices followed, "Why, do you have any mokku? Think about it, you will look like Shakal - the villain in Bollywood film Shaan." Another friend interrupted to say, be careful, more often than not hair doesn't grow as you expect, you do it at a great risk. One more friendly advice, “Don't come back for one month till you grow some decent hair."