With the birth of a little one comes many different ceremonies and traditions. But one tradition that is common across many religions and cultures is the practice of shaving baby hair. The Mundan Ceremony or the baby head shaving is a ritual celebrated with grandeur and joy in India. Let’s look at the different rituals that make up the Mundan Ceremony and some tips for you to have a safe mundan.
What is the right age for Mundan?
The Mundan Ceremony as a Hindu ritual is usually done at 1 to 3 years of age, commonly at 11, 9 or 7 months.
The Mundan Ceremony Ritual
- The family first picks an auspicious day for the ceremony that goes with the child’s date and time of birth. This is usually done by a trusted priest, who works out the astrology.
- On the day of the ceremony, a pooja with a holy pyre is started. The mother sits in front of the havan with the baby in her lap.
- After the recital of the Mundan Sanskar Mantra hymns, the priest shaves a small part of the child’s hair. A barber well experienced in shaving babies then finishes the mundan. In some families, it is the father who shaves the first hair.
- The shaved head is washed with holy water (gangajal). A paste of sandalwood and turmeric is applied to cool down the head and heal any nicks or cuts.
- Finally, the shaved hair is offered to God or to the Ganga river. Some families also give the hair away in other ways.
- Some cultures leave a tuft of hair unshaved on the head.
What should be applied on the head after Mundan?
In the ritual, it is common to apply a paste of turmeric and sandalwood to the shaved head. Turmeric is a great antiseptic, and will help heal small nicks, if there are any. Traditionally, curd is used to wash the child’s head after the mundan. Generally, not needed, but you can also ask for antiseptic cream from your baby’s doctor for the cuts if you feel that turmeric has a burning sensation on your baby.
Can Mundan be done at home?
Every family has their own way of conducting the Mundan Ceremony. It is sometimes held at the home, with many relatives present to bless the child. Others can call a barber at the auspicious time with no havan. Some families take the child to a shrine or a temple for the Mundan. Others also travel to the banks of the Ganga river. Nowadays it is common for people to approach kids’ salons to get the mundan done.
Why Mundan Ceremony is done?
The Mundan Ceremony is linked to removal of impurities that cleanses the child off all undesirable elements from the earlier births. The evil eye and the bad influences that have been growing with the child since the womb are now washed off. The Mundan Ceremony opens up the child’s path towards knowledge and a blessed life.
The other commonly stated benefits of the Mundan Ceremony are:
- Shaving the baby’s head will make the hair grow back denser and stronger.
- It exposes the baby’s scalp to sunlight. The sunlight is full of Vitamin D, necessary for the fusion of the pliable skull bones of infants.
- It can relieve the headache that can accompany teething.
Although these reasons aren’t scientifically agreed upon, they are widely stated as benefits of the Mundan for babies.
How to have a safe Mundan Ceremony?
A child who is hungry, tired, cranky, and upset won’t be able to sit through the tonsuring. Try to get your baby well rested. You can also keep your child occupied with a book or favourite toy as the head is shaved.
Pick a reputed barber who has experience working with little children.
Many kids’ salons offer special Mundan ceremony services. Whether tonsuring at home or at a salon, make sure to use a sterilized or a new razor or blade for the baby.
Give your baby a thorough bath in warm water to get the small hair trapped in the folds of the skin.
What religion shaves the baby’s head?
The practice of shaving baby’s head is widespread among people of many different beliefs and cultures. Muslims too shave the baby’s hair on the seventh day of birth, and the hair’s weight in silver is given as charity. In the Mongolian hair cut ceremony, each member of the family clips a little of the child’s hair and wishes the child to have a healthy and happy life with lots of gifts. This takes place when the child is around 2 to 5.
Jewish parents give their babies their first hair cut after 3. In Polynesia, a child’s first haircut is a kid’s party. Children are tucked into special quilts called ‘tivaevae’ when their head is sheared. Family and friends stand around and cover the children with cash and gifts.
Red is the colour of prosperity among the Chinese. Their first hair cut takes place when the baby is a month old. Parents can choose to shave the head or just trim the ends. Babies are often clothed in red caps post hair cut with lots of red food present.
In India, the Mundan is also called choodakarana or chaula among Hindus. Sikh families refrain from shaving their baby’s heads. In some families, girl children are exempt from shaving their head.
There are many different ways of celebrating the Mundan ceremony, your baby’s first haircut. Each way is unique and has its own meaning attached to it. Take all the safety precautions you think are necessary to have a memorable mundane!