By Swami Harshananda
Jaṭā literally means ‘matted hair’. In order to be free from the botheration of maintaining the hair, the ascetics and yogis used to apply some milky exudation of the trees like banyan and twist the hair into convenient strands and coils. This is termed as Jaṭā. It prevents dirt and lice from settling on the head and even keeps the hair in order.
Deities having Jaṭā
The scriptures depict Śiva with such hair locks. Even some forms of Devī, Subrahmaṇya and Sāstā have the same hairdo.
Types of Jaṭās
Depending on the pattern of arrangement of hair, several names are given for the jaṭā and include:
- Jatāmukuta - In this the hair is dressed like a crown and many deities (both gods and goddesses) are shown with this jatāmukuta
- Jaṭābandha or Jaṭākalāpa - In this style the matted hair is wound around the head and tied as a knot on the top and the sages usually are shown with this type of hairdo
- Jaṭāmaṇḍala - In this the strands of hair are arranged in a circular halo and different forms of Śiva generally exhibit this hairdo
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore