Thornhill man sports world-record dreadlocks
Every night when Sudesh Muthu goes to sleep, he wraps his dreadlocks into a ball and places them in the middle of the bed. He remains in the same position until he wakes up the next morning. That’s because his dreadlocks measure 6-foot-3.
Guinness World Records recently named Muthu the man with the longest dreadlocks in the world. “When I go to bed, I have to keep it like a kid in the middle of us,” Muthu said of the sleeping arrangement with his hair and his wife. One day 23 years ago, Muthu listened to Bob Marley. He loved the music, but loved reggae star’s signature dreadlocks even more.
That’s when he decided to grow dreadlocks. He wanted serious dreadlocks, like Marley’s, not short ones. So he stopped cutting his hair. And he hasn’t cut it since. Muthu, a Sinhalese Sri Lankan, stands 5-foot-9, which means he must tie his hair in a ponytail, with a thick band, so it doesn’t drag on the ground. He doesn’t know how much the hair weighs, but says it’s significantly heavier when it’s wet.
“I have to be careful when it rains,” Muthu said, noting he has become an amateur weather prognosticator. But it takes plenty of work to keep the dreads looking good. Every Saturday, Muthu drives from his Thornhill home to a Toronto hair salon for his weekly treatment — a three-hour process.
While the stylist often changes, the method doesn’t. One full shampoo bottle is needed to coat each of his 78 dreadlocks. Then it’s a full bottle of conditioner followed by a head massage, which Muthu said he needs so that his scalp doesn’t stretch due to the weight of his hair. The cleaning costs $60 and the massage is $20. Then on Sunday, he oils each dread so that it smells like mango and lime.
His three boys, Nesta, 8, Thedavi, 5, and Vehaan, 2, do not have dreadlocks. Muthu’s wife Irosha won’t let them. He only has one rule for his boys and his hair. “I say, ‘Don’t touch my hair,’ and the other two listen, but not Vehaan, he pulls on it all the time,” Muthu said.
After being asked nearly every day the length of his hair, his friend George Skrba decided to fill out an online application form for Guinness. The Guinness officials were intrigued and invited him to England.
Guinness officials inspected each of his dreadlocks to ensure no extensions were used, which, of course, would lead to a disqualification. They were no extensions, so Guinness officials gave him the award on August 6. He doesn’t have the longest dreads in the world, just the longest for a man. A woman has 8-foot long dreads.
Muthu is a Rastafarian, a spiritual movement popular in the Caribbean and known to smoke marijuana to get closer to God. Rastafarians also respect dreadlocks.
“Mainly, they say, don’t eat meat if you have respect for the hair. So I do everything for the hair,” Muthu said. Still, he eschews one common Rasta trait — he doesn’t smoke marijuana. He tried it a long time ago, but it wasn’t for him. The 40-year-old said he must always be cognizant of his hair.
“I have to be very careful if I have to go to a factory for work, otherwise it gets very dirty, and people don’t respect dirty hair,” Muthu said. He also doesn’t ride a bicycle and avoids dreadlocks death traps like public transit. The swiftly-closing doors are dangerous, Muthu said. “I can’t even do a run, because I might step on my hair,” Muthu said, “Sometimes it just snaps off.” Muthu keeps the broken dreads in a locker for some future use, although he isn’t exactly sure what that might be. But he refuses to throw them out.
“My wife says I spend more time on my hair then with my kids,” Muthu said, laughing, “Sometimes I do.” “Sometimes when I’m angry, I’ll tell him to cut his hair, it’s too long, but I don’t think he’ll ever cut it,” his wife said. Muthu agreed. “I don’t know why I’d cut it now,” he said.