A 92-year-old man in the southern Mekong Delta region of Vietnam has grown his hair 5 meters (16 feet) over the past eight decades as part of his religious belief.
Nguyen Van Chien has never trimmed, combed or washed his hair for almost 80 years, according to Reuters.
“I believe if I cut my hair I will die. I dare not to change anything, not even combing it,” he said. “I only nurture it, cover it in a scarf to keep it dry and clean and looking nice.”
Nguyen believes growing his hair long was a “divine calling.”
“I remembered my hair was black, thick and strong. I combed it, untangled it to make it smooth. But when I heard the calling from the divine power, I knew immediately that I was chosen,” he explained. “I touched my hair and overnight it has became really hard. It has attached to my head and became a thing of its own.”
He was required to trim his hair when he was still attending school, but by third grade, he dropped out and vowed to never cut, wash or comb his hair again.
Luom, Nguyen’s fifth son, helps the man manage his hair. His 62-year-old son also believes there is a connection between one’s hair and mortality. Luom realized this after he witnessed a man pass away when he tried to reattach his hair using a string.
“These things look simple but they are sacred,” Luom said.
Nguyen is a follower of the now-obsolete Đạo Dừa, or Coconut Religion. The religion was founded by Vietnamese scholar Nguyen Thanh Nam in 1963 and attracted over 3,500 followers, including the son of American writer and Nobel Prize in Literature John Steinbeck, Vietnamnet said. The founder claimed he survived only on coconuts for three years.
The group disbanded in 1975 and was labeled as a cult by the Communist government, VT reported. The leader of the group was jailed for anti-government activities.
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