Those who know me well are aware that for the most part, I’ve kept a shaved head. This has had a bit to do with aspects of my beliefs, although one might be surprised to know that I don’t NEED to shave my head, I simply choose to do so as a show of discipline and as a sign of my devotion to said discipline.
If I can be BRUTALLY honest, it also plays a role in the martial arts as having a bald head gives a sparring opponent one less thing to grab onto. This has also been a practical application in my chosen career, as the very real threat of someone pulling on long hair and exposing a throat is a significant concern.
However, what most people don’t know is that you can practice Buddhism and NOT be bald. It’s not actually a requirement. In Buddhism, the shaving of one’s head and face signifies one of the first steps involved in becoming a monk and starting a monastic life.
This has been a common trait in monasticism for a number of different religions throughout the ages, including but not limited to Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and some sects of Christianity. This was usually done as a means of showing religious devotion or humility, but has also been used as a rite of passage at certain stages in life.
But for Buddhist monks, the shaving of one’s head acts as a symbol of denouncing worldly attachments. It also helps to act as a symbol of monkshood and to emulate the Buddha, who also shaved his head prior to attaining enlightenment.
So yes, Buddhist monks shave their heads and this is an observance they must follow. No, Buddhist practitioners who are not ordained as monks are not required to do so. Some of us simply choose to do so for the reasons I mentioned in the first paragraph. And no, rubbing a Buddhist’s bald head for good luck is absolutely NOT a thing. In fact, it is strongly discouraged. ☯