Karnavedha is the Ear Piercing Ceremony of the Hindus. It is performed on children for aesthetic as well as religious reasons. The ceremony is known in different names in different Indian languages, and there are variations in the way of performing this ritual, and beliefs associated with it. Karnavedha or Karnavedh is the widely used term for this ceremony; ‘Karna’ means ear and ‘Vedha’ means piercing. The other terms include ‘Kadhani Vizha’ in Tamil, ‘Kathu Kuthu’ in Malayalam, etc.Ear Piercing is performed on male and female children, in almost all cultures of the world. For the Hindus, it is a solemn religious practice and a must-do childhood ritual. Among certain sects within the Hindu community, Karnavedha is one of the sixteen major Samskaras (rites) in an individual’s life. Traditionally, ear piercing was performed by Hindus, on both boy and girl children. For the past two centuries, the ritual has been largely confined to females only.
When to Perform Karna Vedha / At what age?
We see variations in Karnavedha / ear-piercing ceremonies in various Hindu sects. The right time (age) for performing this ritual is different in different parts of India.
-Some perform this on the 12th or 13th day after the birth.-For some, the right time is 3 to 6 months after birth.-In some regions, it is performed after 6 months.-Among certain sects, it is performed within one year of the childbirth, or on the 1st Nakshatra birthday, along with the Ayush Homam ceremony.-Eleventh month or odd years of age like 3, 5, or 7 years are also chosen. Karnavedha and Mundan ceremonies are done together nowadays.Considering modern life, the age we can safely pierce a baby’s ears is around 2 months as it coincides with the first round of vaccinations, including the tetanus vaccine.
As per Vedic astrology, there are sixteen major Samskaras (rites) that an individual must undergo in his lifetime. Some consider Karnavedha as one among these. The other Samskaras include birth, education, marriage, death etc. Ear-piercing, being regarded as a solemn ritual, is usually performed on an auspicious day and time. An Ear Piercing Muhurat (day & time) will be found out and the activity is usually performed as a ceremony, with poojas and prayers.Favorable Week Days: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday Favorable Stars: All friendly stars (Mrigashirsha, Chithra, Anuradha, Revathi) and all dynamic stars (Aswini, Pushya, Hasta, Sravana, Dhanishta, and Punarvasu).Unfavorable Tithis: All riktha tithis (Chathurthy, Navami, Chathurdasi), Amavasi, and Krishnapaksha Ashtami.Unfavorable Nithyayogas: Vishkamba, Athigandha, Soola, Gandha, Vyaghata, Vajra, Vyathipatha, Parikha, Vaidhrithi. Unfavorable Karanas:Apart from these, common Panchanga shuddhi checks, the general astrological quality based on the horoscope for the moment is also analysed. Also, factors such as Solar and Lunar eclipses, Sankranti and Sandhyakalam are considered. It is advisable to do Karnavedha on 10th, 12th or 16th day or 6th, 7th or 8th month, or in odd years from childbirth.
Karnavedha, or piercing the earlobes, is done to facilitate the wearing of ornaments like earrings. Apart from this, it is believed to have some physiological and therapeutic benefits.-Our ancient belief is that ear-piercing, at an early age, can ensure kids’ brain development and improve their thinking capacity. The ear lobes have a meridian point that connects the right and left hemispheres of the brain, piercing of which can help activate both these parts. -According to Susruta, ear-piercing can prevent diseases like Hernia and Hydrocele.-The Chinese science of acupuncture states that the acupressure done at a particular point on-ear is believed to cure or prevent asthma. Behind the ear lobe, there is a natural, small microscopic depression that contains nerve endings linked with diseases like bronchial asthma, cough, and tuberculosis.– It is believed that ear-piercing can help in maintaining the regularity in the menstrual cycle of girls.-Various cultures advocating ear-piercing believe that it can prevent hysteria and many other diseases.-The earrings are believed to help in maintaining the flow of electricity in the human body.
Why is Karnavedha done? Religious Reasons
For many Hindus, Karnavedha is a sacrament performed on children. According to Vedas, it is one of the Shodasa (sixteen) Samskaras that an individual should undergo in his life. The other Samskaras include birth, education, marriage, pregnancy, death, etc. The Brahmin community gives more importance to this ceremony than the other Hindu sects. Since each of the Shodasa Samskaras hold high spiritual significance, they observe all these Samskaras with various complex rituals, including poojas and prayers. Karnavedha is considered a Vedic rite of passage, with great symbolic and spiritual significance. It is believed that Karnavedha opens the inner ears of the child for receiving sacred sounds. The mere hearing of sacred sounds, with concentration, is considered meritorious in that it cleanses the mind and nurtures the spirit.
The Vedic Protocol for Ear Piercing
Studies on ear-piercing were done and recorded in the Vedas. It advocates piercing the ear lobes, for both males and females. This part of the ear is considered an intuitive or psychic point. The scriptures recommend gold or copper earrings, and not silver, to be worn here. Gold, combined with amethyst or emerald, is supposed to provide an added positive effect on the function of intuition. These metal earrings are believed to help in maintaining the flow of electric current in the human body. Ancient Ayurveda researcher and surgeon Susruta (6th century BC) advocate ear-piercing for the protection of children from diseases. He explicitly suggests the boring of ears for preventing hydrocele and hernia. He has suggested a very cautious procedure for the ceremony. According to him, the ceremony should be performed in the sixth or seventh month, in the bright half, and on an auspicious day. He says-the child should be held on the lap of the mother or nurse, after the preliminaries.-then the child should be cuddled and persuaded by means of toys.
-the surgeon should pull the child’s ears with his left hand, and bore them slowly at the natural holes which are visible in the sunlight. If the ears are tender, they should be pierced with a needle, if stiff, with a probe. -After boring, the oil should be applied to the ears by means of a cotton thread.
Ear-piercing in Modern Day
Nowadays, in many places, ear-piercing has become a simple childhood ritual limited to female children. Parents mostly prefer ear-piercing to be done at a much early stage as the skin is soft and, also, it will cause less pain for the babies. Doctors recommend ear-piercing after the first or the booster dose of the DPT vaccinations, which is when the baby is between 3 and 6 months old. These vaccinations can protect the child from infections that can be caused by the piercing of the ear lobe.Traditionally, some people prefer to go to family goldsmiths who do ear-piercing. In recent days, people prefer to go to a doctor or a beautician, or some jewelry shop. It is always good to use a pure gold wire or tiny ear stud for piercing, for other metals like nickel may cause infections or irritations. One who does the piercing should sterilize the equipment or tool, and an antiseptic solution should be applied on his hand and the baby’s ears.Piercing has to be done exactly in the middle of the ear lobe, where there are fewer nerves and cartilage. An experienced ear piercer will be able to locate this spot easily.