Why Is the Mundan Ceremony Done?
Various religious and cultural practices like the Mundan ceremony occur all over the world, primarily upon the birth of a baby. These customs are very significant to the particular communities and believers, and the people pass them down to the subsequent generations. You may wish to know the essence of customs, such as the mundan ceremony.
So, why is the mundan ceremony done? Indian parents especially Hindus and Muslims shave their babies heads in a ceremony known as Mundan also known as the Mundan Sanskar. This is a ritual originating from Hinduism, involving the tonsuring of a baby's head, where the parents shave their baby's hair several months after birth. According to their beliefs, this ceremony is essential for several reasons, such as purification of the baby's body and soul, reducing the pain from teething, and having healthy hair, among other reasons.
Planning for a baby's mundan ceremony is important and this article will provide the facts needed to get started. We highlight the facts about the ritual, how to perform it, its essence, and the tips needed for a safe ceremony. Read on as we provide the ins and outs of the mundan process.
What is the Mundan ceremony?
The Mundan (Mundan Sanskar also known as the Chaula or Choodakarana) is a vital and popular ceremony among the Hindu community. In this ritual, they completely shave the baby's hair (the hair from birth) and offer it as a sacrifice to the gods; this practice is also common among the Muslims and some Sikhs. The Muslims either completely shave the hair or trim it, while the Sikhs conduct the kesi dahi ritual, similar to the mundan. Here, they add curd to the newborn baby's head.
The culture has been present among the Hindus for several years. Hence, it carries a lot of religious and cultural significance, especially among the Indians. It bears a lot of weight among the people and has some hidden references. The believers find it an essential ritual for a child's growth.
Therefore, they put tremendous effort and thought into it. Doing so ensures that they plan it carefully, and it runs smoothly. Notably, in many areas, the baby boys go through with the ritual; however, some families also perform it on their baby girls.
Typically, the ceremony takes place during the child's first or third year of life. Another essential factor to consider is that this ritual has to occur during an odd month and year. Hence, it is common to find many people performing it at the seventh, ninth, or eleventh months of the year. Even so, some people may still decide to have it at a later age too. One vital aspect to consider is that the ceremony will only occur upon the onset of the baby's first hair growth.
The Essence of the Mundan Ceremony
Several Hindu cultural beliefs back up the mundan ceremony. Similarly, some experts have suggested that this practice has some health benefits for the baby. The following are some religious and cultural reasons why they find this ceremony necessary.
- The Hindus believe that shaving the babies' first hair purifies them, and they can wad off bad spirits, and evil spirits sent their way by evil eyes.
- The practice significantly purifies the baby's body and soul.
- By shaving the hair, the believers view that the gods will bless the child with good health, long life, and a better future.
- It is essential to eliminate any karma and negativity from a past life.
- They believe that they can relieve the baby of the pain and headache caused by teething through shaving.
- Doing the mundan enables the children to be free from diseases and makes their bodies active and healthy.
- Some scriptures state that the ritual is essential for better brain and nervous system development.
Generally, the ritual is beneficial for the spiritual well-being of the baby. Thus, doing it is necessary for the baby's religious standing. The Hindu texts and scriptures also state that the soul acquires a body after eighty-four lakh yonis, with each yoni significant on a baby's birth. Therefore, shaving the hair signifies the baby's purification from past yonis and frees him/her from the past's negativity.
Some experts also advise that the ceremony has many benefits for the baby's growth and development. The following are some expert-approved reasons for the mundan.
- The shaving cools the baby's head; hence, lowers the overall body temperature, especially when it's scorching.
- The hair that grows after the cutting of the hair tends to become longer and healthier. Since the baby's hair grows unevenly, shaving it helps it develop more robust, better, and denser. The baby will no longer have scattered or messy hair.
- Scientifically, shaving the baby's hair is necessary for better absorption of vitamin D. When the baby has a shaved head, he/ she is more exposed to sunlight than when covered with hair. This way, the baby efficiently absorbs all the nutrients required for stronger bones.
Apart from these reasons, there are still other beliefs associated with the practice. However, it all comes down to personal choice, whether to do the mundan on or not. We advise going with a gut feeling, as long as the necessary precautions are taken, no harm will come to the baby in the process.
How Do You Perform a Mundan Ceremony?
The Mundan tradition is mandatory for most Hindus and is a familiar ritual for some Native Americans and Muslims. In timing, the appropriate time to do the Mundan ceremony varies according to the religion, community, and family; the only similarity is that it is only for babies under the age of three.
On the contrary, some people prefer performing it on the baby boys while others include the baby girls. For the Muslims, the ceremony occurs between day seven and day forty of the baby's life; on the other hand, the Hindus perform it when the baby is between four months and three years.
Typically, the ceremony occurs on a particular date, and the father or the priest is the one in charge of the ceremony. He decides the most appropriate time for it to occur, following the time the baby was born. During the havan procedure, the baby's mother sits the child on her lap and faces the sacred fire's west side.
The priest then shaves a portion of the baby's hair as he chants some hymns, giving the go-ahead to the barber to shave the rest of the head. It is the father's role to perform the initial rite for some families, then ask the barber to come in.
Next, they wash the baby's hair in holy water or gangajal and apply a mixture of turmeric paste and sandalwood. This paste is necessary for cooling the head and enhancing the healing of any resulting cuts. The paste also has purification and antiseptic advantages to ascertain that it prevents irritation and infections. The people advise not to wash off the hair with shampoo or soap, which may irritate the baby.
Lastly, they offer the cut hair to the deities or the sacred river Ganga and its tributaries, ensuring that each strand is carefully disposed to serve the purpose. In contrast, a priest can offer an alternative way to discard the hair. Some cultures do not cut all the hair on the head, especially for the baby boys. Instead, they leave a tuft intact (Shikha/ bodi.), the reason being to protect the brain.
How the ceremony takes place heavily relies on the family's tradition and culture. While some do it at home, some may opt to go straight to the barber or the salon, as long as it offers mundan haircuts. Some may also go to the temple or the holy river instead. Those who prefer to do it at home invite the priest or a relative to sanctify the child. Otherwise, they can request the barber's services as soon as the priest gives the go-ahead.
What Can I Put on My Baby's Head After Mundan?
Once the infants hair has been shaved as part of the Mundan ceremony, there are substances to apply to heal cuts, if any, or to propagate the child's hair growth. Usually, after tonsuring, the baby's head is washed with holy water and turmeric paste applied along with sandalwood as an antiseptic.
The Muslims also believe that sandalwood can treat head rashes, fever, dehydration and give the baby glowing skin. Turmeric is also essential to provide an antibiotic effect and is good at fighting microorganisms.
Regularly applying almond or coconut oil for faster hair growth by massaging it on the scalp is another excellent option. This procedure will increase blood flow on the scalp; hence, stimulating hair growth. Most importantly, the baby's head is very delicate. Thus, it is the first time that it is coming into contact with the metallic blade. Therefore, it would be best to use a reliable antiseptic or home-made pastes like turmeric.
One way to ensure that the baby's hair grows faster is by providing enough dairy products in their diet. Breast milk is a good dairy for an infant but adding dairy products such as cheese and yogurt to the diet if breastfeeding is recommended. Similarly, if the child is old enough to eat solid food, they can supplement these products to their diet.
For babies with hair growth problems, for instance, when the hair doesn't cover the whole scalp, the best remedy may be completely shaving it. It ensures that the next batch of hair growth is denser and more potent. In contrast, noticing that the baby has curly hair on the back of their scalp, which forms knots that may start to break, leaving the baby's scalp bare.
To avoid such occurrences, detaching the curls using a soft hairbrush whenever they form. The free circulation of air on the baby's scalp will propagate faster and thicker hair growth on the infant's head.
The baby shampoo's quality also plays a significant role in the baby's hair growth. The markets are flooded with shampoos that can easily confuse people on which brand is the best. The essence is to find a safe product for the baby after the mundan and help the hair grow faster. Consider a baby shampoo with a low detergent percentage or one which is purely natural.
Many parents would want to see their baby's hair grow healthy and evenly. However, it may mean having to dig deeper into their pockets and buy effective products. The best remedies are natural oil formulas. Another vital point to note is that a healthy diet is also crucial for the baby's hair growth. After the mundan ceremony, ensuring the baby feeds on a balanced diet with lots of nutrients and vitamins is important.
Which Oil Is Best for Mundan?
The market has various oils that can be applied to the baby's head after the Mundan ceremony has completed. However, only some oils can provide outstanding and unmatched results. Natural plant-based oils such as coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, almond oil, and jojoba are the safest for the baby since they are chemical-free. Hence, they will not irritate the baby's scalp and cause further destruction of the infant's delicate skin.
Coconut oil, for one, is excellent for healthy hair growth. Over time, coconut oil has been used to treat a wide range of hair conditions in infants and adults. It can quickly cure irritation and helps moisten the baby's dry scalp. It also has a comforting scent for the baby. In case the baby's scalp is dry, massage their head with coconut oil, and within a few days, pleasing improvements in growth are noticeable.
For silky, healthy, and thick hair, argan oil can be a better choice. Not only does it moisturize the scalp, but it also promotes healthy and nourished hair for the baby. Many hairdressers consider it among the best hair oils because of its effectiveness and outstanding performance over the years.
Aloe vera plant juice is also suitable for hair growth and glowing skin. This can be bought from a vendor or can be made at home by squeezing the juice and mixing it with water. All that's needed is to regularly wash the baby's hair using the solution for more remarkable results.
Gelatin powder can also work well when combined with other hair treatment shampoos. The amino acid works best for both adults and infants. Suppose the baby still feeds entirely on breast milk. In that case, making a gelatin solution, vinegar, and honey, then massage the baby's scalp using the mixture and allow the hair to stand for a while before washing and adding any hair shampoo.
Tips for Effective and Safe Baby Mundan
- Ensure that the hairdresser or barber properly treats their tools and equipment before shaving the baby's head. Be careful, mostly if religious leaders or a hairdresser performs the mundan. However, if done at home, ensure to properly sterilize tools. Experts advise buying a new razor or scissors for the tonsuring process.
- Give the baby enough rest and food before the actual ceremony. It will ensure that the baby is not hungry and fussy. If the baby is well-fed, they are likely to sleep, which will make it easier. But if the baby is awake, they be kept occupied with toys or baby songs to make it easier for the barber to perform the procedure.
- After the shaving event, give the baby a nice bath and ensure to wash away every trace of hair from the baby's head and body. Warm or cold water may be used depending on the prevailing weather conditions; in some cultures, they use curdled milk to wash the infant immediately after the ceremony.
- Antiseptic paste or cream to heal any wounds should be applied to deal with any cuts or soreness that may result from the shaving. Traditionally, Indian women use sandalwood mixed with turmeric to form a paste that has antiseptic properties. The cream or paste decided upon should be safe for the baby's hair growth.
Remember To Take Extra Precaution During the Mundan Ceremony
It is fascinating to learn that most modern families may not strictly adhere to the rituals of the mundan; in most cases, they may not find ample time to do it traditionally. Therefore, the best way to go is to have it at the salon or the barbershop that offers the mundan haircut.
There are likely to be several modern facilities that specialize in the service. Thus, there's no need to worry about having to follow the religious procedure to the letter.
The primary concern would be to ensure that the baby's mundan process is safe, especially if they are a few weeks or a few months old. Similarly, it helps taking necessary precautions regarding the hair products used after the ritual. Else, they may irritate the baby. Lastly, using this article to find the best hair products that will hasten the baby's hair growth and leave it healthy and strong.