Indian Rapunzel Nilanshi Patel: Donated my hair to Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Hollywood museum
“I went to the hairdresser when I was six years old and he ended up cutting my hair too short! I cried, asking him to stick them back on my head! My mother consoled me and said don’t worry, now we’ll help you grow your hair,” recalls Gujarat-based Nilanshi Patel, who recently chopped her tresses after growing them for 12 years, which earned her the epithet of Gujarat’s Rapunzel!
“I had set the Guinness World Record for the longest hair ever on a teenager right before my eighteenth birthday last July, when my hair measured 200 centimetres,” says Patel, who has previously held three other records for the length of her hair. But then, what prompted her to get a hair cut? “It took me a while to decide what to do with my hair. I could auction it off, donate it to charity, or donate it to a museum. It was my mother who told me to donate it to a museum because she felt it would immortalise my journey and inspire others too,” says this teenager whose tresses will now be displayed at Ripley’s Believe it or Not! Hollywood museum, and the Guinness World Records Museum in the US.
Patel, who is in her first year of engineering degree at IIT Gandhinagar, says her hair care routine will certainly be less time consuming now. “Earlier it would take me 30 minutes to wash and an hour to comb my hair. I would also oil my hair 2-3 times a week. And my mother would help me out with everything. It’s because of her and her homemade shampoo and oil that I could grow my hair this long. After I donated my hair to the museum, my mother cut her hair too, and donated them to a cancer charity,” she says.
As a teenager she never felt that her hair restricted her in any way. “I play table tennis, I dance regularly, and am also involved in karate. My hair had never been a source of concern. In fact, they’ve only helped me. Modelling is my passion, and I received a lot of offers from quite a few shampoo brands and others because of my hair,” says Patel, who is experiencing a new high, adding: “I had hair that touched the floor so it was nerve wracking to go for a shoulder length cut, but I’m thrilled with my new shorter hairstyle! I’ve also launched my own shampoo and oil that worked for me, and hope that it works for others too. But, I will now grow them out again!”
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika