Mundan, Mottai, Choodakarna…call it whatever you want, it all means the act or custom of shaving your child’s hair for the first time. A uniquely Hindu ritual, the necessity of a mundan ceremony is sometimes debated by new parents. Is it really worth it? We tell you what you need to know.
What is Mundan?
‘Mundan’ or choodakarna as it is called is the practice of shaving the baby’s hair for the first time. It holds religious importance in each belief and is done at various stages such as 6 months/1 year/3 years, etc.
Significance of Mundan:
- It is believed that a child’s regular hair growth pattern is defined after the first mundan ceremony – though there are no scientific facts to support this.
- It is considered as an act of ‘letting go’ off the negative vibes surrounding the child and starting afresh. In some customs, it is also considered as an act of letting the extended family know that your baby has now turned one!
- It is also believed that performing the mundan increases the longevity of the child (again, a belief.)
- Practically speaking a ‘mundan’ is to usually provide temporary relief from sweating or possible cold/cough for the child.
- It is believed to be a way of distracting the child from impending teething trouble.
As with all ‘firsts’, the mundan is done in the presence of family members and usually in a temple/ religious setting. The child sits on the maternal uncle/father’s lap during the mundan and the event is soon followed by a ‘thanksgiving’ visit to the presiding deity of the temple.
A commonly asked question is whether mundan should be done on a girl child. Many Hindu sects perfrom mundan only on boys, yet others do it for both.
Should my child have a mundan ceremony?
Why not: Choosing to have a mundan ceremony or not is completely up to the parents. There is no scientific evidence to show that hair pattern or hair growth increases or decreases because of a ceremonial shave. Many parents choose not to have one because the child usually cries uncontrollably and they want to avoid any unpleasantness.
Why you should: Many families choose to have the mundan as a way of following traditional customs. Also because it is a way to appease family elders.
Tips for a safe Mundan
Whether you choose a temple or a hair salon, make sure you keep these safety pointers in mind:
- It is easier to do it before 6 months of age when your child is less mobile and enjoys being held. This will ensure enough hair growth before the first birthday too. Of course, many customs allow mundan only after the first birthday.
- Ensure the razor used by the stylist is new and sterilised. You could also insist on carrying your own razor.
- Give your child a warm bath immediately after the hair cut. The little strands of hair could land anywhere and you wouldn’t want your child ingesting them accidentally.
- In case you notice any cuts or minor scratches on your child’s head- consult your doctor and apply an antiseptic cream on the tonsured head immediately. An age-old practice is to apply a paste of turmeric and sandalwood to act as an antiseptic and cool your child’s head.
- Ensure your child doesn’t wriggle much or cry incessantly during the mundan, to prevent any cuts. They will obviously get suspicious of a new member coming close with a pointed tool- but try to distract them! What better than cell phone and apps?!
- Feed your child before the ceremony.
- It is believed in some customs to make the child wear a new dress (gifted by the grandparents) after the mundan. The most practical reason would be to entice the child and show her something new so that he/she stops crying!
- Try not to show the mirror to your child immediately. Some kids might get scared of their own reflection.
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