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You are here : home > Indian Culture > Indian Festivals and occassions > What is Mundan or Chudakarana?

What is Mundan or Chudakarana?

Mundan is one of the important rituals performed by Hindus. Find out the importance of the first head shave of the baby and the ritual of keeping tuft of hair on the crown of the head.


Chudakarana is the Sanskrit word for Mundan or the first hair-cut of the baby. The literal meaning of Chudakarana is arranging the hair tuft or tonsuring. This is a ritualistic practice followed by most Hindus, where parents are very particular about performing this act with all the regular norms. This is an act that is also observed as per the points mentioned in the scriptures or shastras. If you look at the Grihya Sutra, Chudakarana should be done after the child completes a year and it must not be later than three years. In this ritual, the entire head is shorn of the hair leaving only the Chuda or the Shikha, which is the tuft of hair on the crown of the head.


The Principal Features of Chudakarana
 

The manner in which the Chuda is arranged is the most vital part of Chudakarana. According to the Vedic shastras, this arrangement differs in different sects of the Hindu religion. Every child is believed to be born in a certain Gotra or ‘family of ancestors’, that is, the Gotra of the father. The Chudas consist of a certain number of Pravaras, or tufts that is in sync with the respective Gotra of the baby. 


Current Rituals Followed by Pandits 

These days there have been a lot of leniency in the practice and Pandits or experts in the shastras are of the opinion that the rules can be relaxed or changed as and when they deem it fit. So there is no hard and fast rule, but the adherence to the customary rituals and the associated Pujas are nonetheless performed with much devotion. After all the sole objective of the Chudakarana is to  ensure and pray to the Gods to bless the baby and pray that the baby grows up into a healthy and spiritual individual free from sins and all that impact the goodness of life.


Ritual of Keeping a Tuft
 

We find that in northern India, the keeping of a single tuft is almost a norm. But if you look at the states of southern India, you will find that the adherence to the rule of keeping the number of tufts as per the Gotras, is still maintained by the people.


What is the Essence of Chudakarana?

It is believed that hair on the body is basically a continuation of the past life, its bad traits that are undesirable for the well-being of the current birth. So Chudakarana is precisely a measure adopted to do away or reduce the impact of those undesirable traits. As the Mundan is performed, the baby is made to move into the future or the current life. The Mundan is actually a metaphoric activity that symbolises freedom from the past life and its traits.


Places for Performing Chudakarana

Chudakarana is often a big ritualistic affair on the Ganges and especially in Hrishikesh and Hardwar. But many families opt to perform this ritual in their homes by themselves or calling a priest over. This is done regardless of the gender and a sort of ‘must-do’ activity for young boys and girls. Vedic Mantras and prayers are chanted admist the blowing of the conch shells as the Mundan or the tonsure is performed. The hair is then offered to the holy waters of the Ganges at the moment or later on.


What is the objective of Mundan or Chudakarana? What are features of Chudakarna? Where is Mundan or Chudakarana ideally done? Discuss here.

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