Pabbajja means “the going forth.” It is the Buddhist rite of initiation where a layman becomes an ascetic. This outgoing is the transition from home to homelessness. As part of the process, the initiate shaves their head and beard. In Theravada countries, tradition holds that boys undergo Pabbajja at puberty. In Tibet, China, and Japan it occurs later, usually around age 20, after a probationary period.
During the rite, initiates chant mantras on the transitory nature of the human form. These involve the specific recitation of “hair of the head” and “hair of the body” over and over again. Once the ritual is complete, the initiates don a saffron robe and venture out in the world. Generally, this means joining a monastery, rather than becoming a wandering mendicant.