Nidhi Nova is now one year old. The force of tradition is great and our daughter was swept away yesterday by its blind tidings. We tried our best to ride the tumultuous waves of tradition while keeping our daughter above the waters.
In many parts of India there is a (religious) tradition of giving the child a headshave and ear-piercing when the child is a year old – or sometimes even younger. The reasons for the two – one very risky and the other definitely harmful – no one knows. I am told that the hair is offered to gods. I am fine with that, I think that’s what gods deserve, a bit of keratin for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The ear-piercing seems to be just an early preparation for dangling fashion accessories. No pious reason was given to me for messing with the earlobes. Piercing the ear of a child is only the first step to more sinister things like the chinese fad called Lotus feet. Even if it is just an earlobe, piercing it is a lot worse than leaving it alone.
Body piercing is found in every culture. It seems to stem from a deep need to endure hardships – self-created or otherwise. Perhaps, it is one other expression of the great tradition common to all cultures: “Rites of passage” – most of which try to get as close as they can to the hardship of the first rite of passage (through birth canal). Apparently, people in many parts of the world have come to think that god is appeased when a human shows willing submission to suffering. Endurance is indeed a good quality but when it is in the name of ignorance, it is utter nonsense.
Today my daughter’s head looks just like mine. Her ears are still unpierced. I refused to allow piercing although there were multiple attempts from her grandparents, great-grandmother and numerous other staunch, unwitting and many-a-times exasperating bearers of the torch of tradition.