The Chudakarana or the Mundana, is the eighth of the sixteen Hindu Sanskaras, in which a child receives his/ her first haircut. According to the Grihya Sutras, this Sanskara should take place at the end of first year or before the expiry of the third year, but the later authorities extend the age to the seventh year.
Some parents prefer to perform the Mundan on the banks of the holy river Ganga, but with modern post pandemic times and other issues, the ritual is performed at home or a temple or in a party plot as well. A Brahmin or Hindu priest is called over and he organises a ‘Havan’ or a ‘Homa’. A hairdresser/ barber specializing in this ritual of Mundan is called over or the baby is taken to the nearby temple, where he or she gets his or her head shaved. The hair that is shaved off cannot be thrown off just like that. Every single strand of hair is carefully collected and kept to be offered to the God or immersed in the holy waters.
The Mundan is different for the boys and girls. The head of the girls are completely shaved off while, for the boys, a Chuda or a tuft is kept on the crown of his head. This is also known as Shika and it actually signifies the Gotra that the boy belongs to. After the Mundan is over a paste of turmeric and sandalwood is applied on the head of the baby. This is not only a ritual that is done as a part of the purifying act, but it also ensures that the antiseptic properties of the Haldi (turmeric) and sandalwood prevent the possible occurrence or any sort of irritation or infection. It is also advisable not to apply any soap or shampoo on the head of baby for the same cause. The sandalwood gives a cooling sensation and the turmeric is well known for its antiseptic properties.