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Piercing Your Baby’s Ears: What It Means In Indian Culture

Ear piercing as a fashion statement has been around for many millennia in the Indian culture now and this has been the case for various reasons. Called Karnavedha in the Hindu tradition, the tradition involves piercing a child’s ears between the ages of three and five.

One of the reasons for this is said to be for the mediation of the child’s soul towards God, as piercing the ear makes the inner ear more susceptible to the mantras or the sacred sounds in Hinduism chanted by the priests or even the parents. Karnavedha is a ritual legitimized by its mentioning in the Vedas, and hence, is considered to be a mandatory practice in the Hindu culture for both genders. The only difference is that for boys, it’s the right ear that is pierced, while it’s the left one for girls. 

According to Brahmanism, karnavedha is one of the prominent rites that a human is supposed to perform in a lifetime. In some communities, it is a ceremonial process that is performed in a celebratory manner, though it has to be done before the sacred thread ceremony, Upanayana.

Ideally, this ceremony is to be performed within a few days of birth (as mentioned in the vedas), but it is avoided for health and hygiene reasons. Doctors say it must not be performed at least before the child is 3 months old, as this is when babies get their first DTaP vaccination, which makes them immune to infections, especially tetanus.

Scientifically, ear piercing is proven to be beneficiary for a lot of reasons, such as faster brain development or better eyesight, as the earlobe has excellent connectivity with the brain, taking care of the sensory skills a human possesses. Hence, doctors recommend it too.

Some people choose to go to jewellers, while others do it at home. Either way, it must be ensured that the needle is new and sterilized. Although people used to insert neem twigs in the newly pierced hole earlier, as it worked as an antiseptic, people today have chosen not to go the traditional way and add to the aesthetics of their child’s piercing with designer earrings and studs.

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