Why do people shave off their head hair when someone in a family dies?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A.

I was told that shaving the hair on the head is a custom observed by the male members of a family where a person has recently died as a mark of respect to the deceased person. It also denotes detachment with the one who has moved on to another world and a start of a new life without them. I wasn’t aware of all this as we in Kerala have totally different after-death customs. I don’t know if this is specific to our community, though.

When a person dies in our family, the immediate bloodline (sons, daughters, daughters’ children) observe the same customs. We do not cut our hair or nails for 16 days after the death. The men do not shave their beards or trim their moustaches. Women do not wear a bindi or kumkum in the hair parting (for married women) and no makeup whatsoever…not even kajal. There are several other observances related to food (no rice, no papad, no desserts) and other things. But our men do not shave off their hair. This I know. Their beards are shaved and moustaches trimmed only after the 16th day function.

Why do people shave off their head hair when someone in a family dies?

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