Sri Lankan Grooming Tradition

  1. Main Piece: Don’t cut your hair and eat Rasam on the same day
  2. Informant Background:
    1. Why: When an individual passes away in Srilanka, it is tradition for the man of the house is expected to cut all of his hair and eat only Rasam (tomato soup – a staple food in Sri Lanka and South India) for a day. Thus cutting your hair and eating Rasam is mocking death and is seen as inauspicious.
    2. Where did you learn it: My father
    3. What does it mean to you: This doesn’t especially pertain to me since I am not yet the man of the house. However, my grandparents and parents find this important so they all follow it and my parents ensure that everyone in the house follows it, as regardless of whether or not the individuals following the tradition are “men of the house,” it is inauspicious to mock death in such a way.
  3. My Thoughts
    1. This particular piece, when I heard about it from Arjuna, spiked my interest because I had previously collected a Grooming Tradition from Tamilnadu. As Sri Lanka and Tamilnadu are quite close physically and both speak the same language (Tamil), I was expecting there to be some similarity in the reason behind such a tradition. However there is no apparent similarity. Much like that tradition, however, this seems to be one of those traditions that gets put into practice as habit due to superstitious beliefs, and gets handed down through the generations as such.