Hair Shaving ceremony89
In our country, whatever the religion or community, several rituals or 'shonshkars' are performed after the birth of a child. Most of these rites and rituals are believed to purify the child. Hair shaving after birth is just one of them.
What is hair shaving ceremony?
Shaving the first hair of our baby is an important ceremony in Islamic traditions for many years. Some Sikhs perform kesi dahi ceremony – equivalent to the mundan ceremony performed by Hindus -- by putting curd in the hair of the newborn baby boy and then shaving it.
Among Hindus, the mundane/hair shaving ceremony (also known as Chaula or Choodakarana) is performed during the first year or in the third year of a child’s life. In some communities, the Mundan is done only for the male child, however depending on the beliefs and customs girls too may have mundans.
Why is the newborn’s hair tonsured?
The first haircut is an important ritual. In Islamic views it is believed that shaving the hair gets rid of all/any germs the baby may have carried from mother’s womb for example blood from placenta .In Hinduism it is believed that shaving the baby’s hair rids the child of his past life's negativity. Some believe that a shaving the first hair bestows a long life, a better future and also protects the child from the evil eye. In some communities, the hair on a newborn’s head is considered impure and it is believed that only a hair shaving ceremony can cleanse the child’s body and soul.
Some believe that shaving the hair helps release excess body heat and keeps the baby's head cool. Some also believe that it helps relieve headache and pains associated with teething. It is also a common belief that shaving off the hair stimulates cells and improves blood circulation, which may help in the growth of better and thicker hair.
Apart from the Bengali/ Indian community, Chinese and Mongolians also observe similar traditions for shaving the first hair of their children.
How is the ceremony performed?
The hair shaving ceremony is considered a purification ritual and is done on a specific day at an auspicious time that is decided by the priest based on the time of the birth. However, more and more as parents are becoming busier, choosing the exact time and date is not seen as an important deterinant of the ceremony. The mother sits with the child in her lap and faces the west of the sacred fire. The priest or maulana shaves off a part of the child’s head while chanting sacred hymns. After that a barber who specializes in these type of ceremonies shaves off the rest of the hair. (In some families, the father performs the initial ceremony instead of the priest.)
The shaven head is washed with holy water and a paste of turmeric and sandalwood is applied. It is believed that this mixture cools the head and helps nicks and cuts to heal faster. The shaved off hair is either offered to a deity or to a sacred river . The priest or maulana offers specific instructions on how the hair should be disposed. In some cultures, a tuft of hair is left on the head (also known as ‘shikha,’ ‘choti,’ or ‘bodi’). It is said that ‘shikha’ protects the brain.
Where can I perform the hair shaving ceremony?
Every family has its own traditions for performing this ceremony. Some perform it at home inviting the priest/maulana and relatives to bless the child. Others may ask the barber to come home after their priest gives them an auspicious day and time. Now-a -days, many choose to take their children to a salon or beauty parlour or just choose a day at home.
Some families may even have a family tradition where they take their child to a holy place, or grand parents house for the first haircut.
Tips for a safe hair shaving ceremony
- Ensure that your baby is well rested before this ceremony. It may be difficult to handle a baby who is cranky and upset.
- Ensure that the barber’s equipment and tools are sterilized, especially if you are taking your baby to a mosque, or a salon. If you are planning the first hair cut at home, wash the tools and sterilize them properly. It is best to buy a new pair of scissors and a razor for the hair shaving ceremony.
- Wash your baby’s head properly. Use tap water or lukewarm water depending on the season and weather conditions. In some families, there is a tradition of using curd for washing the head just after the hair is shaved off.
- Don’t forget to apply some antiseptic cream or lotion to heal those nicks and cuts on your baby’s head. You may also choose to apply a paste of turmeric or turmeric mixed with sandalwood powder to your baby’s head. Turmeric is believed to have antiseptic properties, it helps in healing cuts and sandalwood has cooling properties. During the warm summer months, let the paste stay on your baby’s head for about fifteen minutes before washing it off.