Why You Should Not Have To Shave Your Newborn Baby's Hair Until Bald

June 07, 2013

Baby's Hair Cut Ceremony
Baby's Hair Cut Ceremony.
Photo credit: ummu uswah.

In Javanese culture, shaving a newborn baby's hair until bald, after the age of 35 days, is a common thing. Back then, I was experienced the same thing as in Javanese culture, had my hair shaved until bald by my late grandmother.

But, I was not doing it to both of my children. My first daughter had a thick and black hair when she was born. It seemed a little bit weird, if I had to shave her hair until bald. Unlike me when I was a baby, I only cut a little bit of my children's hair after they aged 35 days.

The Javanese Culture of Selapanan

The Javanese ritual of cutting newborn baby's hair aged 35 days, or called as selapan age, exactly at the baby's Javanese weton day of birth. For example: If a baby was born in Sabtu Legi, June 1, 2013. Then the baby's selapanan ceremony will be held in Sabtu Legi, July 6, 2013.

The second Javanese ritual is for a baby aged seven lapan, or 245 days is called tedak sinten, which means to get down in the ground ceremony. Based on the book of Primbon Betaljemur Adammakna by Kanjeng Pangeran Harya Tjakraningrat, the ritual ceremony may not only be held when the baby is at the age of 245 days, but also at the age of 70 days, 105 days, 140 days, 175 days and 210 days. The book is also not mentioned that the newborn baby's hair should be shaved until bald.

The Moslem Tradition of Akika

90% of Indonesian people are moslem, and shaving a newborn baby's hair until bald is a must thing to do, while performing aqiqah, or akika, within seven days after birth, according to the hadith of Ashabussunah (HR: Imam Ahmad, Ashhabus Sunan, and At Tirmidzi).

Is it true that shaving a newborn baby's hair until bald, will make the hair grows thicker?

Indonesian people, especially the Javanese believed that shaving a newborn baby's hair until bald, will make the hair grows thicker. Just like when grasses or leaves are cut, to grow them faster.

The fact, hair is different from grasses or leaves. Hair grows from the follicle beneath the surface of the scalp. The hair growth rates are different in every people. The genetics play a key role in the hair growth. The average rate is about one and a half inch per month. So, whatever we do to the hair on the outside, will have no effects on the hair that is growing in the follicle. Both my children's hair from they were born with, had lost all them, a little by litle, until the age of a year old.

Fontanel, The Door of The Soul

If the eyes are the window of soul, the Javanese people believed that human's ubun-ubun, or fontanel, the crown of the head, is the door of the soul. When a man die, his soul is came out from his fontanel to be taken by the death angel. And so is when a three months fetus in the uterus is given a life by The Lord through its fontanel.

Based on my children's experience, both of them were more immune to diseases, and only sufferred from a light cough, cold or fever, that should not have to stay in the hospital to receive intensive medication. I believed that their immunity had to do with their fontanel, in which was still covered with their hair.

My second son had a thin fontanel in his bald hair since birth. Until he was at the age of four months, his fontanel was still softer than his elder sister when she was at the same age. Because it, I grew my son hair until he was at the age of three years old, and only cut it once when he aged selapan, or 35 days old. Back then, everybody always thought that my son was a pretty girl, due to his long thin hair.

Why do I say that fontanel is the door of the soul? Have you ever been with a person who is at the end of his life? Did you notice the temperature of the his body? The cold of his body rise up from the feet to the head?

So, the Javanese ritual was different from the Moslem tradition, in doing the shaving of a newborn baby's hair. Nowadays, most Indonesian people are combined both ritual, not just in seven days, but after the baby aged 35 days old, whether it will be until the hair is bald, or just a little bit.

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