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Tuesday, March 5, 2019

craze for sporting handlebar moustache .. Abhinandan, the hero

Prescript : Having written a post on handlebar moustache – aka Abhinandan – today (6.3.2019) had darshan of Sri Parthasarathi on theppam (float festival) – this bommai attracted me for obvious reasons.

In Tamil folklore and tinseldom, that hair above lips portrays valour ! ~  murukku meesai (twirled moustache) is seen as symbol of virility !!  ~  mankind has sported for centuries – a derived trait that is not aped by any other living being ! – not by apes, monkeys, gorillas .. .. whereas beard is sported by many animals, especially lions. Though North Indian film stars do not sport it much, erstwhile heroes like Rajni and Kamal had big facial hair. 

It is stated that keeping such thick mush caused some problem during British Raj in 19th Century and, as a result, Indian moustache had a profound effect on British facial hair. The British Army, who were clean shaven until that time, had difficulty maintaining authority among the Indian soldiers, who saw their officers' lack of a moustache, beard and sideburns as a lack of manliness. Eventually British officers began to cultivate moustache and other facial hair to gain the respect of their troops. The trend of sporting a moustache spread quickly through the army and then back home amongst the general British civilian population.

At the age of seven, Subbiah started writing poems in Tamil. When he was eleven, he wrote in such a way that even learned men praised him for his great knowledge and skill.  The boy who was till then referred to as “EttayapuramSubbiah” came henceforth to be known as “Bharathi”, and later he was respectfully referred to as “Bharathiar” by nationalists and by millions of Tamil lovers all over the globe. In June 1897, Bharathi was hardly fifteen when his marriage took place, and his child-bride was Chellammal.  Bharathi left for Benaras (Kasi). He spent there the next two years with his aunt Kuppammal and her husband Krishna Sivan. Speedily gaining a fair knowledge of Sanskrit, Hindi and English, he duly passed with credit the Entrance Examination of the Allahabad University. The Banaras stay brought about a tremendous change in Bharathi’s personality. Outwardly, he sported a moustache and a Sikh turban and acquired a bold swing in his walk. .. .. and when we think of Barathiyar, we see him with a twirled moustache. 

The present team of ‘men in blue’ sports style beards – Shikhar Dhawan and Ravindra Jadeja would twirl theirs ..  – Brijesh Patel, sported long flowing moustache and there was Merv Hughes who took a hat-trick in 1988, an unusual one at that.  Courtney Walsh had split-innings hat-trick, Hughes came up with an even more complicated one, which was actually spread over three overs. In the second Test against West Indies in Perth in 1988, he dismissed Curtly Ambrose with the last ball of his 36th over, then (after another wicket had fallen at the other end) polished off the innings by removing Patrick Patterson with the first ball of his next over, to finish with 5 for 130. Then, with the first ball of West Indies' second innings, Hughes trapped Gordon Greenidge plumb in front, and went on to take 8 for 87. Actually the hat-trick was so unusual that Hughes didn't immediately realise he'd taken one, and had to be told about it later. Merv Hughes was known for his ‘handlebar moustache’.

Singam series was quite a hit ..DuraiSingam (Suriya) is an honest sub-inspector of Nallur, a small village in Thoothukudi district in southern Tamil Nadu, assisted by his bumbling colleague YettuErimalai (Vivek).  The popularity of DuraiSingam (Surya) sporting a handle bar moustache, attracted one and all.  He perhaps was not the first to sport handlebar mush .. .. there have been villains and a notorious smuggler too. 

Now all the talk of ‘handlebar moustache’ .. .. leads to only one – the irrepressible Abhinandan, synonymous with courage and patriotism.Most Indians first saw the pilot on 27 Feb when Pakistan's information ministry released - and later deleted - a video showing him blindfolded and his face bloodied.In a later video he was seen sipping tea from a cup. He was not blindfolded and appeared to have been cleaned up. 

In that video he was shown giving his Name, Military rank, stating that he is  from "down south", but refused to share any details about his mission, adding: "I'm not supposed to tell you that."The clip went viral with many praising him for his calm demeanour and courage. Soon, the hashtag #BringBackAbhinandan was trending and Twitter was flooded with prayers for his safe return.

Indians felt happy and celebrated all over waving the Indian flag thronged the Wagah border in Punjab state, where he was handed over to Indian officials. News of his return was greeted with fireworks in every Indian village and city.  He has become an instant cult, with many youngsters trying to emulate him with the trademark ‘handlebar moustache’.  There are reports that inspired by his valour and courage, a hairdresser in Bengaluru has given haircuts and moustaches similar to that of Abhinandan's to over 650 people and that too free of cost !

"Considering the popularity of our proud soldier, we decided to give free 'Abhinandan Cut' to all for a day at my salon and spa," hair designer Nanesh Thakur of Nanesh Hair Salon & Spa told PTI."By offering the cut, I will be instilling patriotism among the youth, which will motivate them to choose a career in the defence services," he said.

Love thy heroes ! ~ move away from Cinema and Cricket – real heroes are elsewhere !!

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
5th Mar 2019.

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