If the names Handlebar, Walrus, Mutton Chop and Imperial don't ring a bell, head over to the Pushkar Camel Fair in Rajasthan next month for a crash course in facial hair. Traditionally, a luxuriant moustache was regarded as a sign of virility and worn as a badge of honour among Rajasthani men. At the Pushkar and other such rural fairs, a contest is held where Rajasthani men flaunt their moustaches with great pride to win a prize. There are many types of moustaches on display, the humblest being the Handle-bar and its denser version, the Imperial. Some are mutton-chop, merging the side-burn and the moustache, leaving the chin clean-shaven.Some moustaches are all about size, grown to great lengths and kept in a manageable coil in the turban or with a chinstrap. Incidentally, in November itself, across the world in Las Vegas, the Beard Team USA National Beard and Moustache Championships are also being held. For more on the subject, read Hair India: Bizarre Beards and Magnificent Moustaches of Hindustan, by Richard McCallum and Chris Stowers.
An edited version of the article was published in Culturama's October 2012 Issue.