Young Buddhist monks feel their newly shaven heads

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Young monks

Children participate in a Buddhist ceremony, part of their initiation into the Jogye order on May 3 at the Chogye temple in Seoul, South Korea.

The children will stay at the temple to learn about Buddhism for the next 14 days, all leading up to the celebration of Buddha's 2,557th birthday on May 17. In South Korea, the Buddha's official birthday coincides with the first full moon in May. Of the 28 orders of traditional Korean Buddhism, the Jogye order is the largest sect with more than 2,000 temples and more than 9 million adherents.

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A young monk has his head shaved

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Rite of passage

A mother comforts a young child while a monk shaves his head as part of his initiation into the Kogye order.

Buddhist monks completely shave their heads as a symbol of commitment to Brahmacariya, or "holy life." The practice follows that of the Buddha, who shaved his head upon leaving his life as a prince to seek an end to suffering.

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A young Buddhist monks gives a big smile after having his head shaved

Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Kid's new do

A young child grins upon inspection of his freshly shaven head during the initiation ceremony.

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Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Losing their locks for Buddha's birthday
Check out these photos of young monks, whose heads shaven for the first time as part of their initiation into a Buddhist sect.