In India, the large Asian nation, ear piercing is a significant and important part of familial ritual. It is not merely a fashion accessory for most families, but is in fact a cultural tradition. The practice of ear piercing is called Karna vedha. Karna vedha is practiced as a part of a Hindu ceremony. Most often, this ceremony takes place in the first or third year of the child’s life. In some areas of India, parents wait until the mundan ceremony, or the first haircut. This also takes place during the first or third year. India is a very large country, and in some parts of this land of 1.2 billion people, the baby’s ears will be pierced on the twelfth or thirteenth day of life. These days are known by the people of India as, barase and naamkaran.
For many years, and in some areas to this day, the Karna Vedha was done at a roadside stand. They can also be pierced by japa maid or a maalishwaali. A japa maid is a baby nurse and a maalishwaali is a massage nurse. Many families also use a long-known family jeweler. Some mothers of this generation will have their child’s ears pierced at a doctor’s office. When the ears are done, a neem twig is the traditional ‘earring’ used. A neem tree is indigenous to India. Although this is hard to find in the city, it is still the preference of many parents. When selecting earrings, parents are advised to use those which are nickel-free and surgical grade metals. This is healthier and safer for the child.
Even though this is a tradition with a long history in a country of over a billion people, it is still always recommended by health professionals that parents speak to their personal physician to ensure their baby is in good health at the time of the Karna vedha and that the proper method is being employed. Hygiene and safety are paramount in the minds of the parents and medical practitioners. For some families, it is purely tradition. For other families, they believe the pierced ears protect the baby from bad happenings, and for some, the ear is an acupuncture point which has health benefits for the body.