Tonsure /ˈtɒnʃər/ is the practice of cutting or shaving some or all of the hair on the scalp, as a sign of religious devotion or humility. The term originates from the Latin word tōnsūra and referred to a practice in medieval Catholicism. Current usage more generally refers to cutting or shaving for monks, devotees, or mystics of any religion as a symbol of their renunciation of worldly fashion and esteem. Tonsure also refers to the practice of shaving all or part of the scalp to show support or sympathy. Tonsure is still a practice in Catholicism by specific religious orders. It is also used in the Eastern Orthodox Church for newly baptized members and is frequently used for Buddhist novices. It exists as a practice in Islam after completion of the hajj and is also practiced by a number of Hindu religious orders. Tonsure is usually the part of three rites of passages in the life of the individual in Hinduism, the first is called Chudakarana, also known as choulam, caula, chudakarma, or mundana marks the childs first haircut, typically the shaving of the head. The mother dresses up, sometimes in her wedding sari, and with the father present, sometimes, a tuft of hair is left to cover the soft spot near the top of babys head. Both boys and girls go through this ceremony, sometimes near a temple or a river. The significance of Chudakarana rite of passage is the babys cyclical step to hygiene, the ritual is typically done about the first birthday, but some texts recommend that it be completed before the third or the seventh year. Sometimes, this ritual is combined with the rite of passage of Upanayana, the second rite of passage in Hinduism that sometimes involves tonsure is at the Upanayana, the sanskara marking a childs entry into school. Another rite of passage where tonsure is practiced by Hindus is after the death and completing the last rites of a family member. This ritual is found in India among male mourners, who shave their heads as a sign of bereavement. According to Jamanadas, tonsure was originally a Buddhist custom and was adopted by Hinduism, however, Pandey and others trace the practice to Sanskrit texts dated to have been composed before the birth of Buddha, which mention tonsure as a rite of passage. In Buddhism, tonsure is a part of the rite of pabbajja and this involves shaving head and face. This tonsure is renewed as often as required to keep the head cleanly shaven, the purification process of the metzora involved the ritual shaving on the metzorahs entire body except for the afflicted locations. Tonsure was not widely known in antiquity, tradition states that it originated with the disciples of Jesus, who observed the Torah command not to shave the hair around the sides of ones head
Stone carving from ancient Bohemia, believed to depict the form of the Celtic tonsure (3rd century BC).