The tonsuring & ear piercing ceremony

November 21st and November 22nd and November 23rd had been three hectic days for me – I traveled 5000 kilometers and spent Rs 18,000 for a 24 hour visit to Madurai.

Before you start thinking that I have arrived in life (for not every Tom, Beep & Harry can afford to spend Rs 18,000 for 24 hours) let me remind you that I am still not the Shah Rukh Khan of Anjam. For those of you who have forgotten this 1994 movie, let me remind you…in the Hindi movie Anjam SRK chases an Madhuri Dixit, an air hostess, and in the process buys airline tickets whenever he feels like. In my case there was no air hostess but the occasion demanded that I be in Madurai. The occasion was my daughter`s tonsure and ear piercing ceremony.

For all those Americans, Germans, French and Japanese who read this blog, tonsure and ear piercing ceremonies are a religious crime practiced by every family on every BABY in the family. On the level of criminal-ness, it comes second only to the act of naming a baby when he/she is sleeping. One such victim is yours sincerely, named Jamshed Velayuda Rajan.

If you are a new parent you should wait till your kid is at least five years, consult with him or her and then come up with a name. For your information, I was named ‘Jamshed Velayuda Rajan Will Singh` when I was two months old and sleeping…25 years later I would cut down the ‘Singh` part because of the way Hyderabadis pronounce my name. Well, at least that Hyderabadi colleague who announced my name and asked me to come on stage …post which I took the mike and said: “Well, I can`t really sing(h)…but if you want me to…I can give it a shot. I am now going to sing(h) a song called ‘Papa Kehte Hain` from Qyamat Se Qyamat Tak.”

For those of us who are slow, here is a hint: Remember, I was christened ‘Jamshed Velayuda Rajan Will Singh.`

Oh…shucks! Weren`t we on the subject of my daughter`s tonsure and ear piercing? Getting back to it…when I reached home by the Air Deccan flight (no, my house doesn`t have an air strip yet…my opulent family had sent a maroon colored Qualis to the airport) on 21st Nov…a van was waiting for me. It had some relatives who wanted to save the bus fare to the venue, some who wouldn`t have come if there was no pick up and drop and some who didn`t care but liked a break from the daily routine.

The van carrying 20 of my close relatives reached Alagar Kovil (a hill temple full of monkeys) at 10.00 a.m.. Relatives who could afford bus fares up to Rs 8 came to the venue by themselves, which was a good sight. I say ‘good sight` because most of my relatives take bath when they have to get out of the house.

I don`t know if it happens when your family gets together …but when mine does, there are at least 2 murders and 10 attempts to murder. After 1 hour of discussion, 1 murder and 6 attempts to murder, they decided to have the tonsure ceremony first and then the ear piercing.

For those who don`t know, tonsure is the act of sacrificing the hair on a new born baby`s head (babies don`t have hair anywhere else), to the Gods. Hair is being sacrificed since ages because it has always grown back again. I am still looking for a man who has sacrificed his left arm or right thumb to God.

Like every religious act, I am sure this one too grew out of the need to be hygienic. Babies float around in their mother`s amniotic fluid for nine months (unless they are test tube babies, in which case they float around in the piss of angry lab assistants) and thus are exposed to all kinds of dirt. The docs of yesteryears resorted to “Sacrifice for Gods” as an excuse to goad people to be hygienic. And it is said that the a baby should be tonsured only after 7 months or so – my understanding is…that`s how long it took the babies of yesteryears to be strong enough to face the crude hair removing tools.

While on the subject of hair removal, let me tell you that the waxing of legs amongst women became popular in the early 20th century because of two reasons –

  • The razor companies wanting to double their sales, started tapping a virgin market – women – and asked them to start shaving their legs. Thus they doubled their sales.
  • Thanks to the World Wars (esp the first) most of the Nylon being manufactured was used in making parachutes. Thus the women`s clothes got shorter and more legs got exposed…thus crying for shaving (which has today evolved into the fine art called Waxing).
  • Again…next time…please tell me if I go off topic.

    As I was saying, ear Piercing, is another criminal act which all parents and their new born have to undergo (predominantly in South India) within one year of the child birth. Once the ‘Asari` (a goldsmith) finishes the monster`s job of piercing a baby`s ear…the maternal uncle gifts her earrings.

    I just have two questions – why pierce ears at such an early age? Is it because then maternal uncle only has to buy a small earring (approx 1 gram)? Or is it because the girls could reject the earnings for lack of style, if they were older?

    Note: After what she went thro` on 21st November, I don`t think I would really
    mind if on the day my daughter turns 21, she gets drunk, tattoos herself, gets her navel pierced and comes home.

    Other Such Funny Reads

    # Reporting from inside Laloo Prasad`s property
    # Word Play – the next best thing to Fore Play
    # Aging Gracefully…this post has my real age (like you care!)
    # Is Mathematics the King of all subjects? (Don’t Kings have subjects?)

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    23 thoughts on “The tonsuring & ear piercing ceremony

    1. Good one Jammy! Reminded me my son’s tonsuring at Palani. It took 4 of us to get the act right. My son was on my father’s lap. We needed one person to hold my father from toppling over, one to hold my son who was trying out all of his gymnastic talents to wriggle out and one person to guide the barber lest he shaves off the wrong head.

    2. ear piercing is a medicinal purpose man , there is the vien which controls the whole body so they its good for the body , its like the accupuncture and my son i did gun shot , so simple eyyyy.

    3. Were you seriously askin the questions? If yes, here’s why – skin’s young, heals faster, deed’s done. There’s some hocus pocus around the particular spot and acupuncture etc etc and hence even Guys get it doen during the “poonal” thingy. But hey, I’d rather get it done then when the child’s small and the pain’s relieved by a quick shove of the bottle in the mouth. It’s forgotten in a jiffy. Of course the parents take longer to recover tho ‘ 🙂

      It hurts horribly as u grow older, even 35 year old mommies become a bundle of tears 🙁 *that’s yours truly – read a Potpourri post of mine on how I howled*

      If those were rhetorical – then 🙂

    4. Thanks PRG…did we go down the good old memory lane?

      These are times when new borns can suddenly get all the strength….My father in law gave up midway and asked a younger relative to hold Rhea because he feared he would topple over by the baby’s weight.

    5. snigdha, i agree it iasn’t that big a crime afterall…else wouldn’t the police be at my doors after everything was over (as they alsways do in the movies!)

      You are the lucky one, for as u grow older…ear piercing gets painfull-er….and you have a dad like me…(is he as young too?)

    6. Rads…i was seriously asking the questions…it is the fake built up image of mine (like that of the sage-in-the-himalayas) that put the element of doubt in you.

      Agree small age is when it shud be done…and are u telling me that u got your ear pierced when 35? So how old does that make you now? 😉

    7. hi jammy

      this new magazine look is super yaar

      the photos on front page is also very good, the tiny babies on polar bear is so cute looking

      why a girl on tree top 😉 for having hair cut eh ??

      and such a lovely baby face, so rhea has a taaji done and my she will look so sweet with small earings

    8. I think it is unfair to say ‘lesser the age ,lesser the pain’, its probably vice versa. Its only that babies (when they still haven’t learnt to speak) can’t swear for what we do to them. When little grown-ups are forced to such practices, there have been cases of spitting-on-the-face-of-smith, stifling-maternal-uncle, kicking-dad’s-ass, cursing-in-chennai-tamil and many more.
      Now we know why we do it to the toddlers- to save our ass !

    9. wow new look raj…

      hmmm one thing your comments and readers comments are not coming together..

      please show us photo of rea with earings .. she will looking so cute

    10. First of all, if you were a Singh, wouldn’t you save your hair at the cost of saving your life? The thought of baby’s ear piercing is heart-piercing. You are as complicit in the criminal act.:P

      Van carrying 20 relatives..haha. While in India I’ve seen 15 people crammed into an ambassador car once and here (in Kuwait) I ask if the 5th person would fit in my SUV or not?

      “I am still looking for a man who has sacrificed his left arm or right thumb to God.” How about sacrificing your toe? ouch your toe..LOL

      Excellent post. Enjoyed every bit of it. Love your humor.

    11. and are u telling me that u got your ear pierced when 35? So how old does that make you now?

      If we have to play that game, that puts me at a very comfortable, exciting and young 70 😉

    12. great post rajan!….this just gets me down my memory lane when my ear-piercing ceremony was marred by violence like nandigram from my parents family..Mothers family considered ear-piercing as sacred ritual whereas none of the males in my fathers family had their ear pierced..

      so after a lot of heat and dust finally both the families decided to pierce only one ear instead of two…..so my ear ring style was in fashion much before salman khan sported it..thank god …now my parents can never blame me for wearing earring on one ear…after all it was their choice 🙂

    13. Hahahahahaha! Too good man! The way you have written is “wonderterrificulastic”! Ok… a new word to add to the dictionary 😛 hahahaha! Keep writing… Warm regards to the little one!

    14. hi first timer here, got thru the mad momma’s page….

      I agree the ear piercing at less than one year is torture, I did not get it done for my kiddo, and now she cant wait to have her ear pierced, simply because she loves jewelery and wants to wear my earrings all the time. I did get her head tonsured, but only because the hair grows back thicker, will propably get it done again in a few years… i bet you think I’m cruel now….lol…totally loved your post

      btw my daughter is gonna be 2 years soon…

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