In the West, people generally choose to remove their hair for cosmetic reasons. A woman may find her underarm hair unsightly with sleeveless shirts or a man may be self-conscious of his chest hair at the beach. But there are a number of other reasons people around the world choose to remove their hair, and one of them is religion. Hair removal for religious reasons is called tonsure. Tonsure is a traditional aspect of Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and Sikh religions. Read on to learn more about why hair removal matters in these religions.
All Buddhist sects require monks to shave their heads, face, and eyebrows. Buddhist monks shave their head to mimic Siddhartha, the prince that would later become Buddha. When Siddhartha left his palace to find a way past suffering, it's said that the first thing he did was shave his head, face, and eyebrows. Without hair, he was able to focus less on his superficial self and more on the world and his search for enlightenment. After their initial ordinance, Buddhist monks maintain their hairless appearance by shaving regularly.
Hair removal in Christianity isn't the norm as it is in Buddhism, but it still exists. In Roman Catholicism, tonsure was performed to induct a man into the clerical order. Only the middle of the scalp was shaved, leaving a ring of hair around the edge of the head. The ring of hair was supposed to resemble the crown of thorns that Jesus wore during his crucifixion. Today, some Roman Catholic and Eastern Christian churches still require tonsures for high-ranking members of the church. The Greek Orthodox church traditionally shaved the entire head, but now a close buzz-cut is acceptable. Celtic Christian tonsure removes the hair from the ears forward and is still regularly practiced.
Hair removal for Muslims is dictated by the Islamic, or Sharia Law. Muhammad, the messenger of God, said: “The fitrah consists of five things: circumcision, trimming the mustache, cutting the nails, plucking the armpit hairs and shaving the pubic hairs.” Moreover, the only body hair that shouldn't be touched is the hair on the eyebrows. Any method of hair removal is permissible, but plucking was the traditional form during the Sharia's inception. Threading is a traditional form of hair removal in the Arab world that's now popular in the U.S.
Jewish hair removal is the subject of a lot of disagreement, even among scholars of Judaism. The Torah states that the “corners of the head” and “corners of the beard” can't be shaved. It also indicates that priests can neither let their hair grow long or shave their heads closely. Many scholars believe that the specifics of hair removal in Judaism stems from a mourning tradition to respect the dead, while others believe that it was simply an attempt by Israelis to distinguish themselves from other nations. Today, Orthodox Jews don't remove hair from the corners of their head or beard, as indicated in the Torah. Other forms of Judaism, like Conservative and Reformation Judaism, allow any form of hair removal as long as it's not done with a razor. All Jews are forbidden from shaving or cutting their hair for thirty days after the death of a friend or family member.
Sikhism prohibits any form of hair removal. Baptized Sikhs are bound to five specific articles of outer faith often referred to as the “Five Ks.” One of the Five Ks indicates that a Sikh may never cut their hair, as a sign of respect and gratitude for God's natural creations. Sikhs comb their hair twice daily with a Kanga and then secure it into a knot. The knot is usually covered by a type of turban, such as a dastar wrap or a patka, which is commonly worn by Sikh children.
The origins of hair removal stretch far back into the beginnings of these religions, many of which are thousands of years old. Nowadays, laser hair removal is a great option to get rid of unwanted hair for good. For whatever reason you choose to remove your hair, Hair Removal Forum can help you. Let us schedule a private consultation with a qualified hair removal specialist in your area.