Why Do Hindus Shave A Babies Hair?

I have two boys… Syon is now 9 Years and Dhiyan is 4 years old.  My mother is law had told me not to cut Syon’s hair, as after 18 months we will shave his hair.  I respected her family traditions, at that time he was the first grandchild and wanted to keep them happy.  Syon had the most beautiful hair filled with endless brown curls.  I remember the Mundan ceremony as if it was yesterday. A friends dad had come to the house to shave his hair, when he pulled out a proper blade my stomach turned.  I have to be honest I found the whole ritual really upsetting and stressful. I am not sure who cried more Syon or I.  Holding my baby later with his curls on the floor and this little bald child with teary eyes looking back at me thinking…. “What have you just done!”.  It was extremely emotional but respecting my in laws I followed traditions.  Yet with Dhiyan my mother in law said we did not have to do this ritual… to be quite honest I was so thankful not to go through that again!! Recently I had the boys haircut, Syon’s hair is very think and Dhiyan’s hair is thin and wispy.  I said to the barber is Syon’s hair thicker as we shaved it when he was born… He laughed and said to me its genetics not because you shaved his head!

Reflecting now with all Hindu ceremonies and rituals they are deep routed in traditions and symbolism.  So yes I thought I would find out more The Jai Jais Way.

According to Hinduism, a soul gets a human body after experiencing 84 lakh yonis. It is believed that every yoni has its influence on human birth. The shaving off the hair is considered to be a gesture of purification from the previous yonis and freedom from the past. In Hinduism The Mudan is one of 16 purification rituals known as “Shodasha Samskara”.  It is believed that the ceremony will rid the baby of any bad karma or negativity from their past life.  Whilst purifying the child and supporting mental and spiritual growth. After researching this ritual I came across theses reasons of why a babies head is shaved. Please understand there are not my personal opinions but the traditional reasons that I have found.

Rids the baby of his past life's negativity

Stimulating growth of nerves in the brain

Bestows a long life and a good future

Protects the child from the evil eye

Cleanses the child's body and soul

Helps to keep the baby's head cool

Helps relieve headache and pains caused by teething

Improves the growth of the baby's hair

How is the Mundan performed?

The Mundan is performed on a specific date at an auspicious time. The day and time is decided by a priest based on the time of the birth.

A havan or homam is performed by a priest. The mother sits with the child in her lap and faces the west of the sacred fire. The priest shaves off a part of the child's hair while chanting sacred hymns. After that, the barber shaves off the rest of the hair. In some families, the father performs the initial rite instead of the priest.

The shaven head is washed with holy water from the Ganga (Gangajal). Then a paste of turmeric and sandalwood is applied. It is believed that this mixture cools the head and speeds up the healing of any nicks and cuts. The shaved hair is either offered to a deity or to a sacred river like the Ganga. The priest may offer another way to dispose of the hair, we had put Syon’s in a flowing river. 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. (Ref: Baby Centre India)

Scientifically It is said that Vitmain D is absorbed faster and more quickly in the baby’s body when exposed to sunlight without clothes and hair. Even doctors recommend exposing new-born babies to sunlight without clothes in the early morning. Another reason is that the baby's hair is uneven, shaving the head helps in even growth of hair later, but after listening to my barber I question this.

Photo credit: My little solider Syon in 2013

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