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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

My First Haircut

The following is a definition from Wikipedia:

Mundan - The
Chudakarana (Sanskrit: चूड़ाकरण, Cūḍākaraṇa) (literally, arrangement of the hair tuft) or the Mundana (literally, tonsure), is the eighth of the sixteen Hindu saṃskāras (sacraments), in which a child receives his/her first haircut.

When I was three years old, I had a pretty strong sense of myself. Granted, I wasn't fully versed in my ABC's quite yet, but I was pretty confident in a few things.

My parents loved me.
My brothers and sisters loved me.
I loved White Castle hamburgers.
White Castle hamburgers always made me sick.
It's not easy being green.
Donnie and Marie were a great team.
I was a pretty little girl.

Now, I think most little girls are pretty little girls. At the age of three, I was used to going to the grocery store with my mother and having little old ladies stoop down to talk to me and say "Aren't you just the prettiest thing?"

And in my heart of hearts, I knew that it wasn't like I was winning the Miss America Pageant or anything. But it made my heart swell with pride.

Especially when people told me what long, pretty hair I had.

I had long curls that went down my back and which my older sister would artfully arrange in pretty little clips, ponytails and pigtails.

I was a rockstar.

So, it was quite traumatic for me when, at the age of three, my parents took me to a temple in New York City and shaved my head in front of an audience comprised of close family members and friends who looked on with pride at this lovely coming of age for me.

For this was my first haircut.

I went from being a pretty little girl to looking like a traumatized little boy.

Now when I went to the store with my parents, instead of getting, "Oh - you're so pretty!" I would get "What a handsome little boy! He's almost pretty!"

And I would want to run and hide.

At first my mom dressed me in cute little frocks and feminine clothes. But it probably confused people and pretty soon afterward, she just started dressing me like a boy.

I kid you not.

If you look back at family albums from that time, when I was between the age of 3 - 4, I am dressed very much like a boy - lots of corduroy pants, sweater vests and polo shirts.

The worst is - I remember. All of it.

Perhaps this is why haircuts are still so traumatizing for me today.

Thanks for the memories, Ma and Papa.

You know I love you but is it cool if I forward all my therapist bills to you?





Lemon Gloria said...

Oh, Kiran! That's very traumatic! I had a boy haircut - not as part of a ritual, just a very bad haircut in North Dakota - and everyone thought I was a boy. I had these terrible glasses (which I chose myself, alas) and I just looked so ugly. But I didn't have to play the part while my hair grew out.

Ams said...

How horrible!!!
That is very traumatic and I can't even imagine :(

SurferWife said...

I am seriously traumatized just reading this. You poor thing! I can't even imagine how you must have felt!!

Sara said...

It is NOT easy being green.

Or bald.

That's amazing that you remember all of that.

I'm sorry that it still makes haircuts hard for you today!

AJ said...

1. I am sooooo sorry that you had a trauma like that! My sister cut my pretty curls all off when I was around 3, but my head wasn't shaved. My hair grew in coarse and straight... but that's a different story.
2. Thank you for explaining something I had observed in the Indian families I knew. I couldn't understand it. Now I do.

webb said...

Sorry it was such a bad experience and that you still remember, but what is the significance. It's got to be more than great food to follow, if all your family attended...

Will you follow the tradition with your children?

Kate Coveny Hood said...

That WOULD be pretty traumatic. And I bet you never had short hair again...

Anna See said...

i had a crap/pixie haircut. my parents had not traditions to blame this on, just stupidity.

DG at Diary of a Mad Bathroom said...

I've seen guys do this for religious reasons, but I did not know that it was done to girls too. Wow!

Kathy's Klothesline said...

So sad! My older sister has the blond Shirley Temple curls. I was the kid with wispy straight hair and when it finally started to grow, my mother kept it cut in a very unbecoming bob with bangs..... very short bangs. Memories I have are of well-meaning people commenting on how beautiful my sister was and then asking "is that a boy?". Self esteem is a fragile thing. Wonder if this has anything to do with me getting married at 15?

Erin said...

oh Kiran! I'm so sorry that brings up such traumatic memories for you....

It might help you to know that lots of young Jewish boys whose parents are Orthodox don't receive haircuts until after their 3rd birthday....which, in many cases, can result in the boys looking like little girls...

But it doesn't matter because you are beautiful and gorgeous and so is your family. that day was long ago and it won't happen again!



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