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Chudakarana In Hinduism – Tonsuring – Leaving Sacred Knot Of Hair – Chudakarma

Chudakarana, or Chudakarma, is one of the sacraments in Hinduism. It is said that any ritual performed by one not having the top-hair (Chuda also called Shikha or sacred knot of hair) would not be fruitful. This sacrament, also called Chaula or Caula (tonsure), consists of shaving off the hair on the head, leaving a tuft (or tufts, according to diverse customs) at the top.

The medical significance of having such a tuft of hair has been stated by Sushruta, renowned Indian surgeon of the 4th century BCE. He says “Inside the head, near the top, is the joint of sira (an artery) and sandhi (pivotal juncture). The eddy of hair at the spot is called adhipati (overlord). Any injury to this spot is fatal. (Sharira sthana, 6.83).

The practice of Chudakarana goes back to the Vedic times, as could be seen from the mantras used, which refer to the razor, (Yajurveda 3.63), the barber (Atharvaveda 6.68.2), water to moisten the head before shaving (Atharvaveda 6.68.1) and prayer for long life to the tonsured child (Asvalayana Grihya Sutra 1.17.12).

Chudakarma, the first tonsure ceremony, is generally performed after the child’s first birthday, but before the completion of three years of age. Normally, it is done at one’s own residence but it also performed at a temple where the parents had take a vow to that effect.

The Vedic rite consists of tending the sacred fire and making oblations with mantras at several junctures. On the auspicious day fixed for the function, after the preliminary ceremonies are completed, the child, duly bathed and clothed, is seated on the mother’s lap. The father, muttering significant mantras, moistens the hair o the child with warm water, along with a porcupine quill and three blades of darbha grass, cuts off a tuft of hair, with a prayer for the child’s longevity and prosperity. After repeating the symbolic act thrice, he hands over the work of tonsure to the barber addressing him as the sun, who completes the work, leaving the Chuda (top hair) intact.

Source - 
Hindu Samskaras (19870 R.B. Pandey - Motilal Banarsidass - New Delhi.
Encyclopedia of Hinduism Volume III page 253 Rupa IHRF.
Sabdakalpadruma (1987) Edited by Radhakant Dev - Nag Publishers - Delhi