The concept or practice of cutting the hair (Tonsuring) has been in prevalence since ages. In many races, it’s considered as a religious custom, while some consider it as a fashionable practice. In this article, we will take you through different aspects of tonsuring primarily covering its history, auspicious time for performing the tonsure ceremony, myths prevalent around the practice, and more.
What is Meant by the term Tonsuring?
The word Tonsure originates from the Latin word “tōnsūra” meaning clipping or shearing and refers to an age-old practice in medieval Catholics. In simple terms, it’s the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp as a sign of religious devotion. In certain parts, it symbolizes mourning, while in some it’s used to show support.
How Different Communities Practice Tonsuring?
- Hinduism: Most Hindu communities still practice tonsuring as a ritual. According to the rule of the Vedas, the Chudakarana ceremony marks the first haircut for the child and is considered his/her first step towards hygiene and cleanliness. As per custom, it’s said that the tonsuring ceremony should always be performed either in the first or the third year of the child. Most Hindus undergo head tonsure also as a sign of mourning for their deceased family member and to complete the last rites.
- Buddhism: In Buddhism, it’s a part of the rite of becoming a monk. This involves shaving the head and face and the practice of head-shaving ceremony is repeated multiple times to keep the head cleanly shaven. As weird as it may sound, but many Chinese Buddhist monks have 6,9, or 12 dots on their head as a result of burning their shaven scalp with an incense stick.
- Islamic Community: In Islam, it’s customary for Haji pilgrims to shave their heads before entering Mecca as a sign of cleanliness and their rejection of vanity.
- Jainism: Similar to Buddhist monks, even Jai monks believe in keeping a tonsured head imitating the act performed by their teacher Lord Mahavira. However, instead of shaving, Jain monks pluck their hair to keep the scalp bare and devoid of lice. They don’t believe in the concept of using a blade or knife.
Auspicious Time for Tonsure (Shaving head) of the Baby
Performing the head tonsure ceremony must be done properly at an auspicious muhurta based on astrological guidelines. Here’s a quick overview of all the favorable days, stars, tithis to keep in mind:
- Favorable Weekdays – Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday
- Favorable Stars – All movable stars (Punartham, Chothi, Thiruvonam, Avittam, Chathayam), all dynamic stars (Aswati, Pooyam, Atham), Makayiram, Revathi, Chithra and Thrikketta
- Unfavorable Tithis – Dwitiya, Tritiya, Panchami, Saptami, Ekadashi, and Trayodashi
- Unfavorable Nithyayogas – Vishkamba, Athigandha, Soola, Gandha, Vyaghata, Vajra, Vyathipatha, Parikha, and Vaidhrithi
- Unfavorable Karanas – VishtiApart from these, common Panchanga shuddhi checks, the general astrological quality based on the horoscope for the moment is also analyzed. Also, factors such as Solar and Lunar eclipses, Sankranti, and Sandhyakalam are considered.
Precautions to Undertake Before Performing Tonsuring on the Babies
The first mottai for baby is both special and important for the parents. It is believed that shaving the first hair guarantees better hair growth for the babies. When the weak hair is shaved off, it gives room to new hair that has strong hair follicles to grow out of the roots, and even the growth pattern isn’t scattered.
To ensure the head-shaving function gets done properly, you must take into consideration the following pointers:
- Feed the baby properly and ensure he/she’s well-rested. This is a critical step as little no rest can make children cranky or restless and their abrupt movements can cause them injury.
- Pick a barber who’s had experience working with babies and children. Also, ensure that the equipment he’s using is clean and sterilized to avoid your baby getting infected.
- Give your child a warm shower once the tonsure function is complete to remove the dust or tiny strands of hair that might be stuck on the skin. Any negligence on this part can harm the baby and lead to rashes.
- Apply an antiseptic cream or a home-made paste to minimize the impact of any allergic reaction your baby might have had due to the first-time contact with a blade or the metal. Applying the cream will help their skin heal faster and avoid rashes.