A Hindu Ritual That's Short, Sweet

January 19, 2009

Author: Leslie Ferenc

Source: The Star-Ledger


Like father, like son.

It's been that way for generations in the Jain family, where a baby boy's first haircut is an auspicious and joyous occasion.

And 39 years after Atul Jain had his long black curly locks shorn and his head shaved in a 3,000-year-old Hindu ceremony, dozens of relatives and friends gathered to see his son Jeevan's ritual tonsuring. The Star was there for the father's ceremony in 1970 and yesterday for the tiny tot's mundan sanskar.

"In this ceremony, it's believed that when a baby boy's head is shaved within the first year, he will be blessed with a long, prosperous and fulfilling life," said a beaming Jain before Hindu priest Dhirendra Tripathi began the religious ceremony.

Conducted in Sanskrit in the Jains' Whitby home, it included prayers and blessings for the 9-month-old boy, as well as offerings of flower petals to the planets. Jeevan's father and mother Kelvinder participated, along with his paternal grandparents Swaran Lata and Vinod Chand Jain. His sisters, Jasleen, 5, and Hrithika, 4, watched proceedings closely.

At the time of their father's mundan there were fewer than 50 South Asian families in Toronto.

"When we arrived 39 years ago, we knew almost everyone in the community," said Deepti Neto, a Jain cousin. Today, there are 1.26 million South Asians in the Greater Toronto Area.