Karnavedha Sanskar

Significance of the 'Karnavedha Sanskar'

Another very important Sanskar performed for a child, the ‘Karnavedha Sanskar’, is one of the major Sanskars among the sixteen major Sanskars (sacraments) of the Shodasha Sanskars of the Sanatana Dharma or Hinduism, performed in an individual’s life between birth and death. In Sanskrit, the word ‘Karna’ means ‘ears’, and ‘Vedha’ means ‘piercing’, and this ceremony thereby is based on the piercing of the ear of child for the first time after birth. The ceremony is performed between the ages of 6 months to 5 years of a baby, which is regarded as the best time to perform this ritual. Some people also prefer doing it in the later years, and as long as the auspicious time and correct ritual is followed, there is no hard and fast rule regarding age. People also perform the rituals of ‘Karnavedha’ and ‘Mandan’ on the same day, owing to the busy life today. But still, both theses ceremonies take place in the first half of the day.

One of the few rituals that is still performed by a majority of Hindus in India, this ceremony is equally recommended for both boys as well as girls, as per traditional beliefs. Though in the modern times of today, the parents of a male child have majorly opted out from performing this ceremony, yet, the ones who strict follow the Vedic religious way of life, still take pride on doing it. The Brahmin caste in India, especially the ones who study the Vedas, undergo this ritual essentially, as it is mentioned in the Brahmana section of the Vedas. It is also advised by some learned scholars that the Karnavedha Sanskar should be equated similar in significance to the Upanayanam Sanskar, which is the sacred thread wearing ceremony, amongst other Vedic rituals, which hold its own symbolic and spiritual value.

The Ritual - How is 'Karnavedha' performed?'

On the day of the ‘Karnavedha’, the ritual starts with the mother bathing the child well, and dressing him/her up in new clothes and ornaments. A learned astrologer or Pundit, who chooses the bright first half of the day to perform the ceremony, selects this auspicious day. According to what Susruta’s advice, the child should be now seated on his/her mother’s lap or even a nurse’s, and facing towards the east direction. The baby is then made happy by giving toys. The father thus takes part in the ceremony, and a surgeon or a goldsmith, who would pierce the baby’s ears, gently pulls the ears of the baby to see clearly the natural holes in the earlobe visible in the day’s bright sunlight. A needle or a probe is used for making the piercing, and it should be made of either gold, silver, copper, or steel. The female child gets her left ear pierced first, while a male child gets his right side ear pierced first, as per the ritual. The ears are pierced with a needle very lightly in just one stroke, and a wire or thread is immediately inserted into the hole, so that it does nit heal itself to fill up and close again. Oil or medicine is then applied in the hole, by means of cotton, so that it dries up faster and there is no scope for infection, and is cured easily. With this, the ceremony of ‘Karnavedha’ comes to an end, and the baby can then shift to wearing gold or silver earrings, whichever preferred, after some days when the hole is dried and cured.

The Health Benefits of ‘Karnavedha’

'Karnavedha' is believed to help in certain health benefits, as it is regarded to get rid of hysteria and other diseases. The metals used in earrings, which are generally gold and copper, are believed to help maintain the flow of electric current in the human body. Ear piercing is also believed to maintain the regularity in the menstrual cycle of a girl, as she grows up.

Considered to also have deep mystical and spiritual significance, this ceremony is believed to open the inner ears of the child for hearing sacred sounds, which in turn cleanses sins and helps nurture the spirit. In fact, in certain medieval periods, ‘Karnavedha’ became associated with religious beliefs, and not adhering by it was regarded as sinful in the community, as it was essentially obligatory.

Since the earlobes of ears are regarded as the Third Eye, or as a psychic point, gold suits its better, and when a spiritual gemstone like an amethyst or emerald is set in gold and worn, it would add a positive effect on the function of intuition. Susruta also has depicted that piercing the ear of a child prevents hydrocele and hernia.

The Age-old Connect

Not just in India, ear piercing benefits have been regarded highly in many other parts of the world as well. Hippocrates, the Father of Western medicine, wrote about it and wearing earrings around the time 470 B.C., as being a remedy and treatment for menstrual problems. In addition to him, the Greek physician Galen also wrote about the same thing. During ancient time, when there was a dearth of energy of chi, gold earrings would be placed at the pierced acu-point for stimulation. For excessive energy, silver earrings were used. This acupressure and acupuncture technique is performed in china, to treat many health disorders.

Nowadays, people pierce many other body parts, except the nose and ears, which do not significantly, have any spiritual or health benefits to be specific. It is done out of fashion, and there is no ancient texts to substantiate the same. But, piercing of the ears have been performed since ancient times, are still in continuation in today’s world, be it for spiritual reasons or otherwise, and we believe its popularity will continue even in the coming years for a long time.