Chudakarana is one of the important rituals in Hinduism. It literally means “tonsure” and refers to a child’s first haircut. According to scripture, the early hair represents a continuation from the past life. Chudakarana is a symbolic departure from the old existence into a new life. The Grihya Sutra states the rite should not be performed before children reach one-year-old. Once a child hits age three, they are too old.
In Chudakarana the entire head is shaved, except for the crown. This remaining tuft is known as the “chuda” or “shikha.” It is the priest’s job to arrange the tuft in accordance to the child’s unique “gotra” — or “family of ancestors.” This ancient ritual is often performed in sacred sites. Frequently, the hair is offered to the Ganges.