Smita Srivastava shares a unique characteristic with Rapunzel- a character from the fairy tale with the same name. When she too found her ‘prince’ and got married to him in 2001, her hair was about four feet long! Her husband loved her long hair and her mom-in-law took an instant liking to it. It was something that Smita had been proud of during her college years.
The hair had been the envy of many a college friend. The boys had a comment or two to make and the girls wished they had the voluminous thickness of her hair. The oft-repeated question to her would be: ‘How have you managed to keep such long hair?’
It was not easy, but perhaps it was in the genes he five sisters, including Smita, and the two brothers all have good hair. But only her eldest sister has managed to keep hair that extends up to her knees. Their 70-year-old mother has a thick crop of hair that has naturally turned grey with age. “But the thickness of the hair is still very noticeable,” Smita says.
The length of her hair found a mention in the 2012 edition of the Limca Book of Records as Smita, a homemaker, was recognised for the Indian with the longest hair which was over seven feet long.
Till she was about 10-years-old, Smita remembers that she used to have a regular haircut. But soon she, and other members in the family, realised that there was something special. It helped that she used to take very good care of it too, tying it up in knots when going to school and oiling it regularly.
But as the hair got longer, Smita has had to spend more and more time to maintain it. During the college days, when she was studying at the Kanhaiya Lal Basant Lal PG College in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh, it used to take an inordinate amount of time for her. Studying subjects like Hindi, music and history left her juggling her time to manage everything.
“Using amla and shikakai, and my mother’s tips helped me a lot. In addition to the genes, that is the big factor for my good hair,” Smita says. Unlike many women, she does not go to a parlour get her hair trimmed and does it herself.
Using a comb with fine teeth is a strict no-no for her and usually she runs her fingers through her hair. It takes up to two hours every day as she completes the maintenance process. On the day she has to shampoo her hair, the process extends further since the thick, long strands take time to turn dry.
Longest hair in India?
After the recognition from Limca Book of Records, maintaining the hair became even more important for her. When she had her second son in 2013, she had to face some challenges. She was in hospital for a week and managing the pride of being a record holder with the longest hair was not easy.
She went back to her mother for hair advice, even as she returned home from the hospital. It was not easy, and soon the pride of being a record holder gave way to convenience. Once day, quite unexpectedly, Smita decided to chop her hair by nearly a foot.
“It is a regret I have always had. If I had not done that, my hair could have been even longer,” she says in chaste Hindi, with a discernible tinge of regret in the voice.
“I have had enormous support from my husband, who has always encouraged me to do what I want. It was he who suggested to me that I should apply for the Limca Book of Records,” she says. Her husband, Sudesh Srivastava, runs an advertising business based in Allahabad, is definitely proud of his record holder wife and all the attention that she gets from the media, and from everywhere else. Since the story of her long hair first appeared in the media in 2007, she is a regular newsmaker in the city, now renamed Prayagraj.
Smita now has eight different records about her hair that makes her stand apart and some more have been applied for. Sudesh could not have asked more from his record-breaking life partner.