July 7th, 2010


Ear-Piercing...the procedure, or the cries?

I am up against another instance where I have to examine afresh something that I have taken for granted, and not thought much about at all.

This is the practice of piercing the earlobes of babies when they turn one. This is something that has been routinely done for generations, I suppose...but even this practice has undergone a change over time. In the past (well, 50 or 60 years ago), all one-year-olds had their earlobes pierced, regardless of gender. How well I remember the wealthy Brahmin gentlemen wearing "kadukkan"...solitare diamond ear-rings, along with their "kudumi" (hair-tufts)! In an one 8-mm cine recording of my aunt's wedding (I think it was in 1958), G N Balasubrmaniam, aka GNB, is giving a concert at the reception, and his "kadukkan" glints in the gaslights of the shamiana.

In more recent times, the practice of piercing the earlobes of boy children has more or less been given up, but it's practically mandatory for girl children still.

For girls, of course, a few years ago, fashion dictated that the ears be pierced at intervals up the side of the pinna....and each pierced hole decorated with a gold (or diamond, if affordable) ear-stud!

See this young woman's ear:

ear piercings 080710

Here's a

guide to every kind of ear-piercing !

I am aware that in the US, at least, parents used to regard ear-piercing with much misgiving, and worried very much if their children decide to get it done! I don't know how much things have changed now.

However, in the Western world, a pierced earlobe is quite a fashion statement for men, who pierce a single earlobe. And fashion is not the only thing it's a statement of. I heard the mnemonic, "Left is right, and right is wrong", to understand if a man was gay or not, depending on which earlobe was pierced! Obviously, given the value judgement of "wrong" in that statement, this must have been coined long ago, before homosexuality came to be as accepted as it is in the US.

When KTB's first birthday came up, so did the question of ear-piercing, and we realized that there are two ways to do it...the traditional way being to call in a jeweller, who brings along thin gold wires, sharpened at one end, which is what is pierced into the ear, and quickly and expertly twisted in a small ring, and then the extra length is cut off.

The second way is to use a

piercing instrument or gun

which is supposed to be painless...but as that link mentions, it's not infection-proof....

Yesterday I brought the local jeweller home, but DnA did not realize that he would not have one of these guns; also, they were not comfortable with an ear-ring rather than a stud, which, they felt, KTB might pull on and hurt herself. So the ear-piercing programme was cancelled or perhaps postponed.

I had, some years ago, seen a funny notice as I walked, and posted

a photograph of an ad for painless ear-piercing

... wondering if the screams the children let out during this procedure would also be ear-piercing! This was, of course, long before I had to face this issue myself....

We have 4 days left, and I am wondering what to do...if any of you have any ideas for KTB, do let me know; we need a little time for her earlobes to heal, too, before they all leave on Saturday night.

And then, there's the whole "mudi irukkam" deal, where the baby's locks are shorn either before the first birthday, or after the second....luckily for me, DnA don't seem to want to do this for KTB, and there's not enough time for it, either..... wonder what it would feel like to see those silken kiss-curls lying on the ground!

Which silken curls?


silken curls 060710