Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Off with his hair...........

Mundan or Choulkarma is the Hindu custom of shaving a baby's head completely bald around the first birthday. Indian kids seem to be born with a shock of dark hair which seems to grow think and fast. Well, so it seems to the western eye, where we tie bows on the wispiest, few straggly blond hairs our babies manage to squeeze out and put head bands with flowers and ribbons on the heads of those whose crowning beauty is a tad delayed.

In Indian eyes even this thick swatch of baby hair is not considered strong enough and is shaven off so it can grow back even thicker and stronger than before. The bald head also gets a big dose of vitamin D while exposed which apparently has it's own medicinal qualities. The shaving is called 'ayush karma' which means prolonging of life.

I was lucky enough to witness this several times yesterday. The shaving part is a little scary. Howling, squirming, wriggling babies and cut throat open razors. An apparent recipe for disaster....but these barbers obviously have had years of experience and do a painless, clean job.

This beautiful family let me follow throughout this Hindu tradition. I was blessed that they let me share in this intimate moment in their son's life.

First, like son, like father.... Dad gets his head shaved.

 Newly shaved son gets washed in the holy waters.  Look how smooth and perfectly shaved his head is. It was amazing to watch how incredibly gentle the father was as he poured the waters over his son,

The baby then rejoined his mom to dry. His anklet bracelets and tummy chain sparkling.

 Its was then Dad's turn to submerge into the waters of the tank.

 Baby is then dressed in his best  - and is still smiling. This is one of the few tots we saw who remained happy throughout the proceedings.

Mom also managed to discretely swap saris, from the subtle olive green above to something a little more festive and fix flowers in her hair on route for, I'm guessing, either more pooja or food or both!!

This was a part of a photography workshop to one of Bangers oldest temples ........ more will follow!!!

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