Braid chopping, a trend which started in Rajasthan and UP, is finally in the Jammu. Not just Jammu, it has gripped Rajouri, Samba and Kathua districts also. So far 30 cases have been reported in and around Jammu. DIG Jammu Ashkoor Wani, has also said that some samples of cut braids have been sent to the FSL and reports are awaited.
While some victims claim to have seen some mysterious cat while others said to have encountered a sillouhette of a man moments before or after their braids were chopped. “Victims” usually complain of severe headaches after the incident. Recently a Bengali woman was also caught in Chhanni Himmat area of Jammu, said to be involved in witchcraft and braid chopping.
Before coming to conclusions or giving in to rumors, we must remember the incidents of 1995 where Ganesha idols were said to be consuming milk offered by devotees all over India. And how can we forget those terrible nights of 2001 when we almost everybody in North India was scared of some Monkey Man– a hairy figure appearing from shadows and mauling peoples’ faces.
In words of psychiatrist Dr. Madhumita Singh, “There is nothing like black magic or a mysterious man coming and chopping braids (Choti). It is a kind of hysteria when a person gets into an altered state which brings out varied responses. And with anxiety they start believe what they have read around them. It could be out of guilt, or fear, or simply neurosis. This is where the patient does things to themselves without any physiological reason.
It’s their way of becoming important, something different, or grabbing the limelight or doing it just for the thrill.”
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For an episode of mass hysteria to begin, all that is necessary is troubled times in the culture, a shared set of beliefs and a final, fearful, anxiety-provoking trigger to set the phenomenon into motion, wrote psychiatrist Scott Mendelson in Huffington Post. In India, it is the shared belief in spirits and possession that often triggers such mass delusions.
Initially, the panic had gripped rural areas of Jammu and people would claim this to be a superstition of village folks. That has been proved wrong as some cases have happened in the city area also. The only fitting piece in the puzzle seem to suggest it to be a ‘mass hysteria’ which can be eradicated by proper treatment and investigation into the matter.