According to the Grihyasutras, the chudakarana ceremony should take
place at the end of the first year or before the expiry of the third year, though
later authorities extend the age to the seventh year. The most distinguishing
feature of this sacrament is the arrangement of the hair tuft (sikha or chuda),
as the very name of the samskara suggests. In course of time, sikha
developed as a universal symbol of Hinduism, and its removal came to be
regarded as a grave sin.
    Karnavedha is the sacrament connected with the piercing of the ear,
performed between the first and the fourth year of the child. The piercing of
the ears is a custom undoubtedly ornamental in its origin; but later on it was
believed also to be useful from the point of view of health, and in order to
emphasise this importance it might have been given a religious sanction. The
type of needle-gold for Kshatriya, silver for Brahmin and Vaishya—with
which the ears are to be pierced is also prescribed. When karnavedha
assumed a religious importance, it became compulsory like the keeping of the
sikha. Devala, a medieval Smriti writer, warns that all accumulated merits
would disappear at the sight of a Brahmin through whose earholes the rays of
the sun do not pass.
Educational Samskaras
Vidyarambha is the tenth sacrament, and it marks the beginning of study, or
the learning of the alphabet. When the mind of the child has developed and
become ready to receive education, the first thing that is to be done is to teach
it the alphabet—to handle the most advanced medium of education. This
sacrament is also known as akshararambha and aksharalekhana, and these
names suggest that it must have originated at an advanced stage of culture,
when the alphabet was evolved and used for literary purposes. This samskara
is performed in the fifth year of the child; but according to Visvamitra, it may
be extended up to the seventh. Some authorities prescribe that it should take
place just after the chudakarana.
    Upanayana, or the sacrament of initiation, stands for taking the child to a
teacher for education. From the cultural point of view it is the most important
sacrament. Vidyarambha may be regarded as the beginning of primary
education; upanayana marks the beginning of secondary education. The most