Mundan Or Chudakarana Ceremony
India is a land of varied customs and traditions. Various milestones are celebrated for a child-like baby shower, child’s naming ceremony, first solid food, shaving off baby’s first hair, initiation into formal education, etc. Chudakarana is the Sanskrit word for Mundan or ritual for the first hair-cut of the baby. The ritualistic practice is followed by Hindus when the child is one year to third years old because by this time the skull bones have come together and the brain in safer. The first hair of the child are shaven and is called Choula is one of the samskara in Hinduism.
It is believed that hair on the body is a continuation of the past life, its bad traits that are undesirable for the well-being of the current birth. So Mundan is performed to do away or reduce the impact of those undesirable traits. The ritual is performed to pray to God to shower his blessings on the baby so that he grows into a healthy and spiritual individual. The significance of this is to draw the attention of parents towards the mental and spiritual development of the child.
This ceremony is conducted for both boys and girls in some religions while only for boys in other religions. Muslims also shave their baby hairs while Sikhs do kesi dahi ceremony in which curd is poured in the hair of a newborn baby boy.
The belief behind shaving baby’s head
In Hinduism the first feeding with solid food (usually cooked rice), an ear-piercing ceremony, and the first haircut (shaving the head) that often occurs at a temple or during a festival when the cut hair is offered to a deity.
1. Impurities of Past birth removal.
2. Make this birth pure.
3. Make the present birth with no impurities
4. Increase longevity
5. Mundan has been associated with obtaining a long life in Yajurveda.
6. Celebration of the milestone of the baby.
Appropriate Age For performing Mundan on Baby’s Head
Mundan ceremony is done at odd months 7th, 9th, or 11th month and year i.e. 1st or 3rd year of baby’s birth, but some people prefer to do it at a later age also. This is also the time when the baby’s hair is growing/maturing to become thicker as per the natural cycle. Also, shaving makes the hair shaft blunt instead of natural tapering shape, which gives the “appearance” of thicker re-grown hair. Most families take priest advice, who after calculating the auspicious days from kundli (considering the date and time of birth) will set the most auspicious day for the ritual.
After the date is set for Mundan ceremony it is carried either in a temple or at home. The real reason for mundan in Hinduism is that the natural growth of hair on a baby’s head is uneven. So, shaving off hair from the baby’s head leads to the proper and healthy growth of hair.
It is a thousand years old tradition that is still being followed in almost all parts of the country. It is a big celebration time for the family. After the Mundan ceremony, a small tuft of hair is left on the head. It is called the shikha which protects the brain. The length of the sikha depends on the gotra and other traditions of the family. The mundan ceremony is common for both girls and boys.
If you happen to visit Hrishikesh in North India you will get to see a large number of young boys and girls who do their mundan ceremony on a regular basis here. It is considered to be most auspicious for the mundan ceremony. People come from different corners of the country to do the mundan ceremony of their child here. The hair of the child is offered to the holy river Ganges. The child and the father of the child perform a yajna and aarti as they offer the hair of the child to the river.
The priest will have to perform a havan. The mother of the child must sit with the baby in her lap. She should be facing the holy fire in the havankunda. The priest removes a little bit of the hair and put it into the fire. The remaining hair is removed by the barber who is invited for the mundan ceremony. The shaved head is then washed with Gangajal or the water of the Ganges which is considered to be a pious river.
After that turmeric and sandalwood paste is applied to the head of the child. This cools the head and heals the cuts on the head if any so basically it acts like an antiseptic or aftershave which people apply after doing a shave. The hair is then thrown in a sacred river like the Ganga. It is not always possible that you drop the hair immediately in the river Ganga. You may store the hair and dispose them off when you get the time.
Tips for safe Mundan
1. You must ensure that the child is fed before the ceremony so that he or she is not hungry and cranky.
2. Try to keep the baby engaged in a toy or a book as the hair is shaved so that the child does not realize what is happening.
3. The barber must use sterilized equipment for the mundan ceremony.
4. You can also offer the barber a new pair of scissors and razors for the job.
5. The child must be given a bath just after the mundan ceremony and check that all the hair in the body of the child is washed away.
6. Use lukewarm water to wash the head of the child.
7. You can also offer curd on the head of the child for washing the same.
8. The paste of turmeric and sandalwood can be very effective too after mundan ceremony.
9. You can also apply antiseptic cream. You must check with the doctor about the antiseptic cream that you are planning to use. You must also check that the child does not put the cream in his or her mouth. It might be dangerous.
Checklist before a Mundan Ceremony
1. Make a list of the people you want to invite for the mundan ceremony and invite them. You can also print cards and distribute them.
2. Depending on the budget that you have you can make the arrangements.
3. Some people make the ceremony really grand and some keep it simple and sweet.
4. You must decide the menu and order for the food so that you don’t have to rush at the last moment.
5. Keep your cameras ready for the big day.
6. You can also ensure that you get proper clothes for the child as it is his or her special day.
7. The priest and the barber must be told some days in advance so that they are available on the day of the mundan ceremony
8. Please find a good time for the mundan ceremony as it is very important for the better future of the child.
Suggested Read: The Sixteen Sanskaras In Hinduism