To mundan or not to mundan

To mundan or not to mundan

Don't hold a mundan ceremony because you feel your baby has sparse hair growth as it is scientifically proven that the follicles don’t really multiply when the head is shaven

mundan ceremony

The baby is usually in ‘just-get-me-the-hell-outta-here’ mode at his mundan ceremony


She made an appearance.

Stark raving bald.

Re’s I-like-you-but-can’t-help-snatching-your-toy friend just had one of those.

Okay. I will say the word. Mundan. Even though her mommy pretended it was just a summer crop to beat the heat.

I gave a blank stare. Beat the heat? You must be kidding? You have destroyed whatever insulation she had, and how all the follicles are lying exposed to Mr Sun. Unless she wears a cap all the time.

She went on to admit that yes it was one of those. But it was done at home, without much hoo-ha, with just close family. The pundit did his thing. And all was over in half an hour.

I frowned.

She quickly went on to add that her daughter was really nice about it and actually enjoyed it. And also confessed that since she and her husband were not thriving in the ‘mane’ area, this would be a good chance for the daughter to reinvent her follicles.

Here was my chance to burst the bubble. No such luck, I told her. One thing babies are good at is following the gene pool. So if you have slim-pickings, so will the child, no matter how many times you shave his head. Besides, it is scientifically proven that the follicles don’t really multiply when the head is shaven. Don’t believe me? Read up.

I realised I had no trouble with Re in the hair department since my family is a tropical evergreen forest as far as hair goes and unless I married an extremely bald man (which I didn’t), my progeny was safe. Hair wise at least.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a fan of bald babies. Unless of course they were born that way. Now why would you shave the baby’s head just to keep a few geriatrics happy is beyond me.

My mother tried too. I put my foot down. No way was I going to shave Re’s gorgeous curly locks! I am all for tradition, but only when it suits me. Like I had a traditional godbharai, with women dropping all sorts of goodies in my lap, making me fish for modaks and appams, playing the boy or girl guessing game, trying on bangles of every colour and texture. I also did Vishu at home this morning, where you heap up whole fruit and vegetables on a tray and look into it through a mirror the minute you wake up. Plus you also get some baksheesh. I still do from my mum. And Re got his first vishukanni from me. But mundan? Clearly not for me.

I once was party to a friend’s daughter’s mundan, with all the traditional finery and I didn’t like what I saw. There was too much smoke, too much fire, too much chanting, and the baby was in ‘just-get-me-the-hell-outta-here’ mode. Wonder what they feel when they look at themselves in the mirror post the act?

Considering that I know just one hair salon that is exclusively for babies in my city, I find even haircuts totally unnecessary. May be one in  a year is good enough at least until they go to school. What’s with the over-grooming?

But I notice that mums are quite proud about their mundan feats. Like it were some milestone. Like they ran the marathon or something. One told me she did her son’s at L’Oreal, and he didn’t even know what was happening. Another said she just shaved it herself and the baby thought it was some game. Basically it is an item in the tradition list that they seem quite happy to tick off. And wait for results. Only to find that it’s usually more of the same.

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Written by

Lalita Iyer

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