Tonsure(mundan)--Why is it important?
Created by Cheena M Gujral Updated on Dec 16, 2017
Though every occasion associated with your child is exclusive but my son's mundan embarks a milestone amongst his childhood memories. We all were excited like it's a carnival at home. I had wet eyes when barber put his first hair strand in my lap, it gave me the realisation that he is growing up fast. Even though my husband had few apprehensions about why it's important? Why our tiny toddler has to go through harsh shaving? But I believe rituals have its importance and god take care of every child in his own ways. In fact, it was the only day till now, when my boy happily got the haircut; being a sport.
What Is Tonsure Or Mundan?
Practice of shaving off all hair on scalp is tonsure. It holds importance in almost every religion barring few, where keeping hair untouched is sacred. Thus it is a tradition followed in most of states in India. It is also known as chaula or choodakarana.
What Is It In Other Religions?
In Muslims too, few shave or trim baby's hair and in Sikhs "kesi dahi" is performed. Where putting curd on hair of new born boy is done. In Hindus this ritual has much more following. Some perform mundan for boys and in others tonsure is a celebration in both genders. These rituals help us relate to our ancestors and are evidence of our cultural belongings. They show us from where we have come from. So the first haircut in a toddler is Mundan with many beliefs and emotions attached to it.
Why Is Tonsure Done?
Since it is practiced in many cultures with different traditions, there are so many logics and mythological secrets behind performing mundan.
Scientific Reasons Behind Tonsure
- Fill in the gaps in the skull bones: An infant's head is a collection of 6 bones with gaps at the birth time. Due to this sensitivity, a baby is able to pass through birth canal and is normally delivered. This gap generally fills in from the age of 6-7 weeks to 2 years. Due to this delicacy, it is advised to hold a baby's head softly. Thus after tonsure, when baby is exposed to sun, the Vitamin D rich sunlight can better penetrate into skull and helps in filling the gaps between bones
- Removes impurities: Some experts’ emphasis that head shaving in toddlers is helpful in removing impurities
- Enhances blood flow: It is also known that shaving off the hair triggers the blood flow through brain, enhancing intelligence and knowledge in the child
- Opens skin pores: When shave is done on skull, it opens up the pores on skin which may be strengthening eyesight and other senses like smell and hearing power
- Strong hair regrowth: Many believe that shaving off the hair from roots help in stronger hair regrowth. Though, there is no proof for that technically
- Aids in healthy blood flow: Tonsure help in healthy blood flow and seems good for nervous system which in turn help child getting relief from headaches and pains, caused during teething
Mythological Beliefs Behind Tonsure
- Purifies the soul: Some believe a baby is cleaned from all undesirable elements which was hooked to the child in previous life and performing mundan will purify the soul
- Removing bad influences: As per old tales, hair grown in womb believed to have a bad influence on baby's overall development
- Protection from evil eyes: For a bunch of communities, tonsuring protects child from evil eyes
- ealthy life blessings: There is also a faith that tonsure blesses the baby with healthy and long life
How Is Tonsure Done?
Tonsure is highly accepted tradition in Hinduism. Many accept this tradition to happen in 1st year or the 3rd year of baby's age. A specific date and auspicious time is scheduled for the mundan as per the family priest. Generally, a havan is performed followed by haircut.
Mainly the baby is made to sit in mother's lap while barber shaves the child's head enchanting mantras. Rest of the family members are also showering blessings, singing hymns. In some families, it is the father who performs the initial rituals.
After the shaving, head is massaged with mixture of turmeric and curd with sandalwood for better healing and soothing effect. Child is supposed to take bath and wear new clothes for rest of the ceremonies.
The cut hair is not left just like that. Every hair strand is kept safely. In some families, saving them in wheat flour is done to prevent spreading around of hairs. Then it is offered to deity or any sacred water body as per the family traditions.
Sometimes the priest suggests other ways to offer the hair. In few cases, a tuft of hair is left on head, seeking protection of skull gaps and this tuft is called as shikha, but only in boys while girls’ heads are completely shaven off.
Mundan is an auspicious occasion in Hindus but the scale of celebrations depends entirely on family choices. Few do it secretly at a temple or holy place while in some it is celebrated with great pomp and show, inviting priest and guests for a feast.
Nowadays mundan has been summarised to a simple tradition where child is taken to salon for a haircut, keeping in mind the suitable time and date suggested by priest.
What Are The Concerns While Tonsuring?
- Fresh razors and blades: Be cautious with the usage of shavers or scissors. Ask the barber to use fresh and properly washed instruments
- Disposable razors are best: It is always advisable to have disposable blades to avoid spreading of infectious skin diseases
- Stay calm: Never be in a panic mode. Give your toddler sometime to settle before you proceed with the ritual
- No strangers please: Try to avoid more of strangers exposure to your infant in case she prefers only familiar faces to be comfortable
- Stick to the routine: Stick to baby's routine of feeding and sleeping patterns so to smoothly practise the ritual. A cranky baby is always difficult to handle
- Bathe to avoid any itching: Immediate bath after mundan is suggested to avoid any itching in babies. Prefer using natural shampoos over chemical cleaners after shaving. This help in preventing any allergic reactions. The chemicals can harm the open skin after tonsure
- Antiseptic creams help: Regularly apply antiseptic creams or aloe vera lotions to heal any scars or rashes
- Oiling is must: Oiling and messaging the skull shall be well followed after tonsure. This will sooth the skin and help in better hair growth
It is not always necessary to follow the traditions. Although many of them are scientifically proven facts in supporting their existence. Also sticking to rituals help us bond stronger with our ancestors and that indeed paves way for our children to stay rooted to the culture. Whether you do mundan at home or at salon, always remember to keep your star of the day comfortable and enjoying. After all those innocent smiles are most precious thing to look after.
Did you like the blog on why is mundan important for your baby? Share your views and feedback in the comment section below.
| Dec 22, 2017
I have done the same for my daughter when she was 1 year old. she is having curly hairs. now so many people are suggesting me like please do one more time so that your daughter will get straight hairs and growth will also increase. please suggest me is it possible after mundan hair growth will increase and the type of hair also will change
| Dec 21, 2017
very nice... thank you
| Dec 20, 2017
Very informative blog. Reminded me of my son's happiness when the Barber was shaving his head. He was just 8 months old and was so happy and shouting in the saloon. His mundane was done in November so they preferred to do inside saloon. Everyone there was shocked seeing him shouting happily and clapping while getting shaved.
| Dec 19, 2017
I still have vivid memories of my elder 's ones mundan.. and the tears in my Hubby's and my eyes. sadly we could never get back that silkiness and smoothness . i still regret my decision to get her mundan done.. very heart touching and an informative blog.. thanks for sharing!
| Dec 19, 2017
Nyc blog. we are planning this for my baby in few days.