India is a land of many cultures and diverse beliefs. We have tons of people who choose to believe the laws of the land and pass it on to their children, without knowing why. Most of these superstitions may seem irrational, but it does make for an interesting read for anyone who wants to know about a few cultures in India.
Here are a few superstitions people believe in wit regard to babies in India, and a couple of rituals and their significance.
1. Baby tossing
This practice has been prevalent in South Indian states such as Karnataka and Maharashtra for almost 700 years, where toddlers below the age of 2 years old are tossed from the 30ft high roof of a shrine by devotees. They’re caught below on a wide piece of cloth spread by practitioners. This practice is believed to bring good luck and long life to the babies.
2. Mundan or head shaving ceremony
Followed mostly by Hindus, this ritual is performed for babies of both sexes. It is believed that the first strands of hair that grow on a baby’s head represent something from their past life. To cleanse the child of all impurities and start afresh, their head is shaved at least once at an early age. The mundan is carried out during an odd month of an odd year.
This ceremony is performed to welcome the baby into the world. It is considered to strengthen the bond between the father and the child. The father applies a few drops of honey and ghee on the baby’s tongue, while whispering the name of God in the baby’s ear. It is also done so that the first taste of the baby is something sweet, so they go on to speak only sweet things in life. This is followed by the naming ceremony and the havan or fire rituals.
This practice is the act of removing the foreskin of the male genital. It lays great emphasis on the cleanliness and purity of the body and circumcision of the male child is an act of purification. It is done anywhere between the days the baby stays in the hospital up until he hits puberty. It does have proven medical effects, including decreasing the risk of urinary tract infection and preventing balanitis, which is the inflammation of the foreskin.
The practice of naming in Sikhism is special. The baby is introduced to the community by taking them to the Gurdwara, where the priest opens the holy book and recites any hymn. The name of the child is chosen using the first letter of the hymn recited. The baby’s name is then announced to all present and the distribution of sweets takes place as celebration.
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