Mundan Sanskar :: Shaving Away Past Lives

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A few weeks ago, I posted some pictures of my toddler daughter having her hair shaved. And I got A LOT of questions. We were celebrating the Hindu tradition of Mundan Sanskar.

I have always been a huge advocate of teaching my children a thing or two about their culture and rituals, while also instilling a sense of pride and honor about our ancestral traditions. The fear that someday my children wouldn’t remember their heritage and forget their customs is a thought that is really upsetting and a little disturbing for this immigrant Mama.

When a ritual also helps teach my kid about renewal, revival, rebirth, and the fact that this is a “temporary change” and just like other things “the hair will grow back” – this Mama is not missing a chance to learn and raise awareness.

Cue “Mundan Sanskar” (aka TONSURE in English)

It is a ritual of shaving off baby’s hair on the head for the first time ever. In Hinduism, the mundan is one of 16 purification rituals known as Shodasha Samskara.

To give you all a brief history about this ritual, the Hindus believe in the concept of birth and rebirth.

In fact, according to Hindu mythology, a soul gets a human body after experiencing 84 lakh yonis (womb/source/origin)! It is further believed that every yoni has its influence on human birth and affects the present. The shaving off of the hair is considered to be a gesture of purification from the previous yonis and freedom from the past. Mundan is the symbol that the child is beginning his/her new life in this birth, free from the bonds of all the last births.

Mundan Sanskara
Mundan Sanskara: Step1 (Let The Process Begin)
Mundan Sanskara
Mundan Sanskara: Step 2

Traditionally, in Hinduism, the mundan ceremony is done between four months to three years after a child’s birth, and it involves a priest, an experienced barber, and a lavish “Fat-Indian-Lunch” after. In some regions, the mundan is done only for the male child. However, in most families (like ours) girls have a mundan too, though the rituals are a little lax.

Mundan Sanskara
Mundan Sanskara: Step 3

Needless to say, this Mama was all tears to see her little girl attain another milestone so bravely and so gracefully. (And gladly ignored the fact that the ceremony was rather low key at a local barber shop and ended with just an ice cream treat later).

Mundan Sanskara
Mundan Sanskara: Step 4 (Final Look)

There are a couple of scientific reasons behind the ceremony. It is said that Vitamin D is absorbed more quickly in the baby when exposed to sunlight without clothes and hair. Even doctors recommend exposing newborn babies to sunlight without clothes in the early morning. Another reason is that the baby’s hair is uneven, and shaving the head helps the hair grow in evenly after.

Last but not the least, no matter what your reasons may be, I think it should be a personal choice to get your baby’s mundan done or not. Giving into cultural pressures just out of obligation is not how you would want to raise your baby!

No matter what you choose to do and how you choose to do it, what is  actually important and what matters is your child’s safety (which involves the use of sterilized equipment and an experienced barber), happiness (which includes a well rested and well fed baby), and lots of post-mundan cuddles, snuggles, antiseptic (for accidental nicks and cuts), and yummy treats!

Would you fancy a mundan for your child (since now you know a little more about it)? Lets chat!

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you for this! Thank you for sharing your culture. My husband is an immigrant and we also struggle at times to keep traditions but feel it’s so important. I also appreciate these photos because my sons haven’t had a first cut yet and we are new to the area. Finding a barber has been a sense of anxiety for me. Seeing your Baby Girl so at ease make me want to give them a try!

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