What is the purpose of the Mundan ceremony?
The mundan or chudakarm ceremony is the time when a child's head is shaved. It is customary to perform this ceremony before a child is a year old, or after the completion of two years, that is, in the beginning of the third year. Some prefer to wait until the fifth or seventh year.
It is believed that since the hair on the child's head was formed in the womb of the mother, it could be affected by bad influences that are not good for the child's development. Removal of the first hair on the child's head aims at development of the mind, mental capabilities, good health, charm and a long life.
Most have a quiet ceremony at home. However, many people travel to places of pilgrimage and perform the ceremony there. The hair is shaved off and offered to a holy river or stream. After shaving the hair, Aum is written on the child's head and family elders bless him and give gifts. This symbolizes that the old malefic influences have been rid of and the child will now start a new life with good deeds and influences.
In the Ashvalayan Grahsutra, 1/17/12, it is said:
With chudakarm the child is blessed with a long life. The child develops charm and becomes inclined towards useful occupations.