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Thu 30 Mar 2017
Fire Hair Shaving
Written by National Culture Commission   
Thursday, 08 February 2007 23:45
When a child reaches the age of one month and one day (probably people wish to make sure that it is a full month, and so they add another day), it is past danger from illnesses which are understood to be inflicted by spirits. They arrange a big fire-hair-shaving and khwan ceremony. Sometimes they also name the child at this time; this is a matter of receiving the new born child into the register of membership in the family.
The monk is cutting my hair for the first time one month after I was born. In the picture on the right, my grandmother is holding me and my grandfather is shaving the rest of my hair off after the monk finished. My mum is giving me a bottle of milk at the same time.
My grandmother is cleaning my head after everyone finished shaving my hair. After that I went straight to bed and had happy dreams. Notice in the picture that they tied a piece of white string around my wrists. they also tied one around my ankles.

In shaving the fire-hair they must make an offering for the spirit of the place according to custom. The hair that is shaved of is placed in a banana-leaf container with a Caladium or lotus leaf laid in the bottom; sometimes flowers are mixed in. In cases where things are done well, the whole is placed in turn on a stand. Then it is taken and floated on low water, or is taken away and thrown whichever is convenient. The person who takes it and floats it must say, "We ask for a life of coolness and happiness like the sacred Ganges," or something else of this sort. In the Grhyasutra text of India it is prescribed that the hair that is cut or shaved is to be hidden is a cowshed or in a pool or in a place near water. Floating the hair on the water is probably derived from this last Indian custom; it was probably inconvenient for people to put the hair in a cowshed as in the first custom.

Then the relatives preform a ceremony of tying the khwan cotton thread around the child's wrists and ankles, and give a blessing according to custom; or if things are done well there are also gifts for the child. What has been described is the ceremony which ordinary peole may perform. In the case of wealthy or prominent people the ceremony may be as large as their resources, ability and birth permit. That is, they must have an astrologer name the auspicious day for the khwan ceremony; there must be Brahman and astrologer's ceremonial things (the astrologer goes and speaks in a low tone beside the eyelevel shrine on which offerings are laid, there are various offerings; there must be a baaj sii there is a person to perform the khwan ceremony, called the child's purchasing mother; there is encircling with candles; and there are monks to give Buddhist chants in this ceremony. Sometimes the pot containing the afterbirth which has been saved is also entered in this ceremony, together with the silver and gold coconuts for planting when the afterbirth is buried. What has been described briefly is not always performed exactly like this. There are sometimes additions or deletions. It is rather a matter which depends on one's teacher.


Information from: "Essays on Cultural Thailand" (Office of the National Culture Commission).