NEW DELHI (REUTERS) - Women in India are seeking divine intervention to save them from a "phantom barber" after mysterious hair chopping incidents came to fore during the past two months.
In past 60 days or so, more than a dozen women across the rural belts of western and northern India have reported that their hair braids were mysteriously chopped off by the "phantom barber" while they were asleep or unconscious.
A local, Reema, said they were scared and prayed for these incidents to stop.
Priests chanted verses from the holy scriptures as they poured special offerings in a bowl of fire, called "yagna" in Hinduism.
These incidents have fuelled superstition and rumour mongering. People stamped the walls of their homes with vermillion hand marks and hung traditional lemon and chilli charms outside to ward off evil.
Police have appealed to the people to not believe in rumours as they investigate these cases.
These "phantom barber" attacks are reminiscent of the "monkey man" attacks of 2001, when a giant simian reportedly attacked hundreds in New Delhi. However, the monkey man was never caught and an expert committee report dubbed the incidents as hysteria.