Indians are steeped in culture. They have rituals, traditions and customs that signify deeper meaning to every step in life. Mundan is one such culturally rich ceremony to signify the new chapter of a child’s life.
The birth of a child is a big step in the lives of the family. There are certain rituals and customs celebrated by Indian families to help the child get a pure spirit and soul. Mundan is one of the most crucial celebrations a family holds for a child. There is a lot of history and belief hidden in layers in the ceremony celebrated across India.
What is a Mundan ceremony?
A mundan (hair-shaving) ceremony is celebrated because Indians believe that the hair a child is born with carries the burden of its past and the negatives from its previous life. It is the first time a child’s hair is tonsured or cut. Shedding that hair is often associated with getting rid of impurities. There is also a scientific reason behind a Mundan, that removing all hair makes a baby calm and boosts the blood circulation.
According to ancient Indian texts which dictate the rituals and customs to be followed in your life, Mundan is one of them. The concept of rebirth and karma is very prominent in Indian culture. And we strongly believe that we carry our past sins into our next life which is why a Mundan can mean a lot to families.
Mundan can also help improve the growth of hair, benefit by relieving headaches and protect the child from any evil energy or eye. Hindus perform the ceremony either in the 1st or 3rd year for the child. It can’t be performed in any random year or on whim and has to be done during that specific period. It can be done for male or female child depending on the customs followed by the family.
Mundan is celebrated in different religions in India with a specific name and style but the essence remains the same.
Mundan is also called as Chudakarana in some regions and communities.
A Mundan is celebrated with huge fervor and joy in the family with close family members coming together to bless the child. During the ceremony, a small tuft of hair (known as Shikha) is left on the head. The tuft symbolizes knowledge and is meant to protect and secure the brain of the child.
Religious Hindus often travel to pilgrimage sites such as Rishikesh or Vrindavan to do the Mundan. It is considered auspicious to perform this holy ritual in a sacred place. Families consider it a holy duty to offer the child’s hair to Ganges.
For families and people who can’t travel, relatives or the priest brings holy water to the ceremony and it is used for Mundan.
The date and time of the Mundan is decided by an astrologer or priest after consulting with the family. The child’s birth and his or her horoscope determines the right day and time for the ceremony. In some communities, the ceremony must be only done in an odd month of an odd year. While some priests and astrologers consider it unlucky to be done if the moon is in transit.
On the day of the Mundan, a priest will start the ceremony by performing a small puja. The child sits in the lap of the mother and faces the sacred fire. Hymns and prayers are chanted and the priest or the father will cut off a small lock of the child’s hair. It is done to signify the start of the ritual.
A barber then takes over as it is a delicate job to be carried out by professionals. Children often panic and are fussy and barbers can manage them without damaging the child or the head. The shaved hair is offered to the holy water or Ganges as a way to get rid of past sins and become pure. Sweets and delicacies are served at the end of the ceremony to relatives and the priest to share their joy and good luck.