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On what days is a haircut or shaving (Kshoura) or a nailcut allowed and on what days is it prohibited?

Are they different between sampradayas?

Are we allowed to cut hair/beard ourselves? Or should only a barber do it (ofcourse a barber needs another barber then)?

I'm asking this from an theoretical standpoint not practically. Even if people claim going to office as an excuse, we can follow the shastras if we want to.

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Shaving/Haircut also called Kshoura Karma is not allowed on all days.

  1. When shaving beard, start from right side. then cut the mustache, armpits and then at last haircut. Then shave whichever hairs are are to be shaven and then cut the nails at the end.

  2. Ekadasi, Chaturdasi, Amavasya, Poornima, Sankranti, Vyatipaata, days of Vrata and sraaddha, Tuesday and Saturday are prohibited for Kshoura Karma.

  3. Kshoura Karma on sunday, saturday, tuesday will decrease the life by 1,7,8 months respectively. Kshoura Karma on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday will increase life by 7,5,10,11 months respectively.

  4. Those Gruhastha who want or have sons are not allowed to do on Monday.

  5. Those who want Vidya and Lakshmi are not allowed on Thursday.

The above points are taken from Nitya Karma Puja Prakash by Gita Press. They cite references from Gruhya Sutras, Taittiriya Brahmanam and Varahi Samhita.

I do not know about Sanyasi Dharmas, so I am not quoting them. But one can refer to Yati Dharma Sangraha of Vishweswara Saraswati (published as 60th book in Anandashram Sanskrit Series marked as ASS_060 ) which describes the Kshoura Vidhi.

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    Shaving on Friday will increase life and Sunday will decrease? Sounds weird. – Hindu Jul 24 '17 at 4:45
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    @Hindu, it sounds weird that you think this is weird. So many scientists are scratching their head as to how to cure diseases, but nobody thinks what causes them. People think shastras are only there to make our lives uncomfortable by prescribing so many tough rules. That is like saying doctors are only there to make our lives uncomfortable by prescribing so many bitter medicines. – ram Aug 24 '17 at 0:18
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    So keep Shaving on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday will make you immortal. Ha ha. I don't think this is directly related to Hinduism. – Santanu Debnath Aug 24 '17 at 15:52
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    @SantanuDebnath, shastras are not that foolish. The life limit is 100 or 120 years (in Kali). Once you reach that limit, additional shaving on those days will not increase you lifespan, maybe it will improve your health. Also, there are many other adharmic papas that will decrease your lifespan, so shastras gives us long rope and many chances to get back some of that cos it knows we will do papas. – ram Aug 25 '17 at 0:54
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    Okay. I agree with your last comment @ram – Santanu Debnath Aug 25 '17 at 3:33
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Bodily hair is considered "dead skin" and incompatible with spiritual practice / rituals in the Vedas.

mṛtām eva tvacam amedhyām apahatya yajñiyo bhūtvā medham upaiti
(Taittiriya Samhita 6.1.1.2)

Thus practitioners of Vedic yajnas would periodically shave bodily hair. Even though the practice of daily Vedic yajans has almost become extinct, the spirit behind the practice is still being followed as other forms of ritual worship are considered equivalent to yajnas.

The Dharma Shastras prescribe the shaving of some kinds of body hair (head, face for brahmacharis and grihastas; armpits, chest, back, genitals and wrists for grihastas) and finger/toe nails.

The practices of having the hair on the head trimmed, or shaving facial hair alone are quite modern and unsanctioned by the Dharma Shastras. Vapana is to be done in entirety on the prescribed days (because otherwise it would be meaningless to hold on to some impurities instead of discarding it off completely).

Prolonged periods of non shaving (called dīkṣā) are also prescribed for various situations, eg.

  1. For the participant in a long yajna or vrata for the duration of the yajna (Shatapatha Brahmana, various Srauta Sutras),
  2. For the husband of a pregnant wife during the pregnancy period (Apastamba Grihya Sutra),
  3. For the cremation-performer for the period of the first year (Smritimuktaphalam, Aashaucha Khanda).

The allowed days for Vapana can be found various Dharmasastra texts such as in Vaidyanatha Dikshita's SmritimuktAphalam and the Dharma Sindhu of Kasinath Upadhyay (in the tithi-vrAtya-nirNayas of the first section).

A summary of the Smritimuktaphalam in the Tamil language titled "Dharma Sastra Surukkam" edited by Krishnamurthi Sastrigal lists Monday, Wednesday and Thursday as the suitable days of the week for Vapana in conjunction with the Tithis - 2,3,5,7,10,13

Note that all of the above is only for the Brahmana varna.

Members of other varna have other rules. Members of the fourth varNa who work as cooks for example are required to daily trim their nails, and hair on face, head and body.

adhikam ahar ahaḥ keśa śmaśru loma nakha vāpanam (Apastamba Dharma Sutra 2.2.3)
  • Is vapana full, clean shaving or just trim? – Ikshvaku Dec 28 '20 at 21:12
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    @Ikshvaku - full. if you visit any ashram, you'll see most kainkaryaparas with heavy beard, chest, arms hair.. go the next day, and they'll be clean shaven throughout. they're not supposed to shave themselves. others generally do it for them afaik. – ram Dec 29 '20 at 1:44
  • @Ikshvaku Full clean shaving (to the specific types of hair as prescribed for varNa/ashrama). ram@ is also correct about the prohibition on self-shaving. – hashable Dec 29 '20 at 8:15
  • @ram Who is the other person that does the shaving? A member of another caste? And what about shaving genital areas, does someone else do that too? Or is genital areas only self-shaven? – Ikshvaku Dec 29 '20 at 12:52
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    @Ikshvaku Professional barbers (of a different varNa). Nothing is self-shaven. Everything is done by the barber. – hashable Dec 29 '20 at 14:43

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