In Native American tradition, hair is a signifier of one’s spiritual practice. Combing represents the alignment of thought; braiding is the Oneness of thought, and tieing is the securing of thought.
Flowing strands of hair are considered individually weak, but when joined in braids they demonstrate strength in unity. Letting hair flow free demonstrates harmony with the flow of life, and braiding indicates thoughts of oneness.
In Buddhism, dreads are symbolic of material non-attachment; students in classical India on a spiritual path grew them to detach from physical vanity and to develop mental and spiritual powers.