The baby Mundan/ shaving ceremony/ Chudakarana have its roots tied to the Hindu ‘samskars’ (traditions). It has a position on eighth among the total 16 ‘samskaras, in which a child receives the first haircut by shaving the head. It is not only a part of Hindu culture but also followed in other religion as Islam and by native Americans. It is a ritual practiced since a long time by people with different beliefs and intentions.
Muslims have this ceremony when the child is of 7-40 days, while Hindus perform the ceremony when the child is between 4 months to 3 years of age. Also, many communities do not tonsure (shaving off the head) girl child. The rituals and time during which the ceremony is performed are different among various communities, religion or even families depending upon their beliefs. But, one thing existing in common is that the Mundan is done only of infants. Some might even perform it at a later age as well. The mandatory part is that the ceremony must be performed when the child has first growth of hair.
The reality and beliefs behind the ceremony
There are many religious as well as scientific reasons for this tradition. The deeper knowledge and scientific research suggest that when a child’s body gets exposed in direct sunlight, Vitamin D is generated faster. Thus, a tonsured head absorbs sunlight much better. The religious scriptures and texts indicate that after 84 lakh yonis, a soul appears in the form of a human. Every yoni leaves an impact on the lives of humans. So, Chudakarana is performed to mark the purification of the soul from previous yonis and releasing the past to attain freedom. It makes the child free of any evil spirit if present around the soul of the child. Other believe that shaving off the baby’s first hair will promote proper, healthy and even natural growth of hair.
The shaving ceremony acts as a precaution of saving the baby from any disease or negativity, giving them good health, vigour and strength. Few holy scriptures suggest that it stimulates the nerves’ and the brain’s growth properly. Mundan brings along the positivity in life-giving courage to tackle every negativity.
Many people also agree to the fact that it helps in keeping the head cool in hot summers, which is why it is preferred to be done in the summer season. It is also noticed that shaving the head reduces the discomfort caused when the child is teething and suffering from certain pain and headache. It is a gesture asking the Creator to bless the newborn child with a healthy and good life, erasing the negatives of the past to have an optimistic present for a brighter future.
The most acceptable reason can be the guarantee of better hair growth after shaving the child’s first hair. In the initial developmental stage of the kid, hair growth is generally scattered. There is a slow pace in the process of absorbing nutrients for better growth. Due to the scattered and weak strength of hair follicles at this young age, it prevents healthy growth. The mundan resolves this issue making space for the growth of new, stronger and fresher hair follicles which are denser too. Therefore, the mundane ceremony does guarantees better hair growth and bust the myth surrounding it.
What really happens in the ceremony
A priest decides the suitable time and date to organize the ritual according to mythological and astrological factors. It is known as “Mundan Muhurat”. It can be arranged at temples or other shrines, but most people do prefer a pooja or havan at home as well. The child is seated on the mother’s lap when the priest starts the ceremony by chanting sacred hymns/ mantras also called as ‘mundan sanskar mantra’. These mantras are particularly written for the occasion of Chudakarana. The barber then carefully shaves off the hair. Post the shaving, the child’s head is washed with holy and pure water also known as ‘Gangajal’. Applying turmeric and sandalwood paste is suggested to heal the cuts if there is any. This process helps soothe and heal the head. In the end, the shaved-off hair is served as an offering to God or given away via any other method as per the suggestions of the priest.
Safety measures to deem about in the ceremony
Although the ritual is celebrated with geets (Ladies Sangeet) and songs, many people have now started questioning its validity and authentication. Therefore, it is better to take a few precautions if one decides to do the ceremony. Few of the tips include:
- Feeding the child properly so that they don’t become restless or cranky.
- Getting a professional and experienced barber to shave the head with sterilized and clean pieces of equipment to avoid any infections.
- Giving the baby a good and warm bath to clean off the dirt and remains of short hair strands which is necessary to maintain the hygiene.
- Check if the skin is allergenic to any kind of metal to prevent last-minute complications etc.
Some Last Words
Therefore, there are a plethora of beliefs and methods to perform the ceremony. It is upon you to choose which one to believe and listen to your instincts as no one would want to hurt their kids. The mundan ceremony does possess benefits and advantages both for the physical and the spiritual well-being of a child. It is associated with pure religious value which is one of the reasons why many families continue to practice the tradition even today. So, do ensure the necessary precautions to be taken into consideration for an unforgettable ceremonious celebration of Mundan.