There are traditional many rituals that surround the birth of child in a typical Indian family. These traditions and rituals aim at blessing the child to have a long fulfilling life. One of these sacred ceremonies is known as Mundan Sanskar or the first haircut of the baby. The mundan ceremony is an important tradition in India and relatives and friends are invited to bless the child. This first haircut of a child in India has an important significance, which is discussed in the following lines.
The child usually receives his/her first mundan in either the first year or the third year of age. A priest is called to conduct the rituals according to the traditions and a barber is called to shave off the hair. The priest recited sacred hymns and chants and shaves a part of the head. The barber then shaves the entire head, sometimes leaving a clump of hair at the back of the head. Some of this hair is offered in the sacred rivers in holy cities like Haridwar and Varanasi. To cool down the head and to cure nicks and cuts, a paste of turmeric and sandalwood is sometimes applied on the entire head. Thereafter, a child may be shaved now and then or never, depending on the desire of that particular family.
There is a significant reason as to why the head is shaved in such an elaborate ritualistic way. According to the Hindu beliefs, the hair present at birth is supposed to represent unwanted traits from the past lives. In order to make sure that the child has no undesirable qualities of the past birth in this life, the head is shaved off to ensure a new beginning and a fresh start. Medically, it is said that shaving off the hair stimulates the cells and improves blood circulation to the brain. Some also believe that this gives the child a long life.