I am a woman. I am proud of my essential being. I am proud of the fact that i can create, bear and bring a new life to this world. Even the society around me is proud of me for being able to generate life. However there’s one thing which is ironical here – The world celebrates a woman for fertility , for life but shames her for the very phenomena that is responsible for her fertility in the first place. Yes, the world shames her for ‘menstruation.’ It’s the year 2015. The world is rapidly progressing and that too scientifically. Yet even in the year 2015 , a lot of women across countries, cultures, and religions are stigmatized when ‘that time of the month arrives.’ Sad part is that most people (women included) don’t even have a rational explanation for this regressive approach towards menstruating women. They do it because they have been following their ancestors or maybe because they are too unaware to question and find the answers. When i talk about people here, i do not mean some kind of tribal folks or people from rural backgrounds. Not at all. The urban folks are very much included. Folks that are literate( I’m not deliberately using the word education here because literacy and education are two very different things).
A woman is made to feel like some kind of an inferior ‘creature’ when she is on her period. In fact a lot of times women don’t even speak about it. They hush it up as if it’s some kind of a sinful act. I’ve come across some bizarre practices followed by people .Not just bizarre but obnoxious and some times just foolish. Let me give you some examples : In a lot of households , a menstruating woman is NOT allowed to enter the kitchen, NOT allowed to eat pickles, NOT even allowed to bake cakes, NOT allowed to go to a temple for worship ( in case of Hinduism), NOT allowed to sleep on the same bed as her husband, definitely NOT allowed intimacy, is given a separate section of the house to reside , in some extreme cases. Not just Hinduism , every religion in the world puts restrictions on menstruating women (except Sikhism). In Islam, menstruating women are not allowed to touch the Quran, enter the mosque, offer the ritual prayer or be intimate with her husband for seven full days. The woman is also exempted from rituals such as daily prayers and fasting. The Jewish ‘Code of Law’ – The Halakha prohibits any physical contact between a man and a woman during menstruation.Likewise, in Christianity too (especially Catholic Christians) a menstruating woman is considered ‘unclean’ and ‘impure.’ So she’s not allowed to touch the Bible, attend Church Services or even touch raw food. Surprisingly, even a religion like Buddhism does not allow women to circumambulate around the Stupas during menstruation.
The picture right above is that of a board in front of the main entrance of a reputed temple in Chennai. The priest of the temple has not even spelled the word ‘sanctity’ correctly and yet wants women out of the temple during ,”that time of the month.” Anyway, the retrograde rituals restricting a menstruating woman from eating, worshipping, moving to certain places and being intimate with her partner are practically the same across religions. I can quote the exact lines from the scriptures of the religions, I’ve mentioned above but it’ll take a lot of important space here. So being a Hindu by birth, i’d just like to explain the MYTH because of which people still want to remain irrational:
“Viswaroopa the son of Thwashta was recruited as the ‘guru’(priest) fore the gods in place of Bruhaspathi, when Bruhaspathi was hidden himself because of the insult made by the Indra. Viswaroopa was killed by Indra in a cheating war, then the Indra was attacked by the Brahma-hathya Dosha’. So now indra was suffering from the ‘brahma-hathya Dosha’. After some time he asks Bruhaspathi for solution, then Bruhaspathi said ‘if there is any body to share that, then you’ll be relieved and you should give some boons to the person’ The following shared the Brahma-hathya Dosha of indra in the following manner.
1. Earth (prithvy)
2. Trees (vriksha)
3. Sea (samudra)
4. Ladies (sthree)
Earth shared the sin and releases the sin in the form of “fuller’s earth (choudu mritthika)” and got the boon that the earth will be filled or become closed even after the excavations. Trees shared the sin and releases the sin in the form of ‘gum’ and got the boon that they can grow even they cut. Sea shared the sin and released the sin in the form of ‘foam/froth’ and got the boon the at the sea cannot cross the sea shore (generally, not in some cases). Ladies shared the sin and releases the sin in the form of ‘menstruation’ every month and got the boon that they can give birth to children from menstruation.”
.. And this is the reason why people want to remain irrational ?? Like really ? Personally i find it extremely offensive to impose stigmatization on a woman during her period just because some people still want to follow a myth that is like a million years old. Menstruation is a NORMAL BIOLOGICAL phenomena due to which a woman’s Endometrium (The inner lining of the uterus) sheds every month along with the tearing of connective blood vessels through the female genitalia , which we call a period. Hence, getting a period is an innate part of being a woman. So why all the fuss , all the restrictions and the superstitions? It is because of menstruation that women can conceive a new life when they want to. It is because of menstruation that the human race will not go extinct. Yet , some people whom i call, ‘unevolved’ try to prove their prowess by restricting and imposing women. Annoying. More annoying than these unevolved morons are the women themselves who willingly want to be a part of this irrationality and have no hesitation in passing their dogmatic beliefs to the next generation.
The female body should not be ostracized for fertility. The procreative capacity of women is not to be seen as impure. It’s obnoxious to even think otherwise. When a young girl gets her first period, don’t make her feel inferior. Instead congratulate her for her beautifully transforming into a woman. Take care of her and more than anything else, make her aware of her body ( and i’m including both the parents here). I am stunned at the moral and religious hypocrisy of people. A man who might have just raped somebody, a man who might have consumed alcohol, a man who might have committed adultery, a pervert, a wife beater, a murderer, etc etc. everybody is allowed inside places of worship at all times EXCEPT a woman who is undergoing a BIOLOGICAL process every month that makes her CAPABLE OF GENERATING LIFE when she wants to. So who should be shamed ? A menstruating woman or the people who want to stigmatize her ? Think about it and try not being a part of the latter. Be more aware and create that awareness around you . Start from your own homes and stand up for the women in your lives if they are subjected to this mistreatment. But most of all, women themselves need to celebrate themselves. All the women who shout out aloud for being empowered, for starters STOP BEING EMBARRASSED for your body, which by the way is the only thing capable in this world of generating life. Womanhood is to be celebrated. !!
P.S : I feel so happy today that i was never subjected to any of the above mentioned rituals ever. i owe my parents a big THANK YOU since i live in a society that stigmatises a woman for just being a woman.
This is an an absolutely wonderful piece!as a woman, THANKYOU for writing this. Highlights a very very important subject here. A girl undergoing menstruation is already undergoing a body change, sometimes accompanied by cramps. Instead of taking care of her , she is ostracised like an untouchable with some contagious disease. how is that fair or logical?
As far as religion goes, i really don’t understand why a God would be upset or offended if a woman on her period enters a place of worship. I am sure she/ he has far more grave concerns to look into!
Again well done! You go girl ! 🙂
ugly picture of our society…where a woman is treated like an animal during mensturation..n specially elder ladies impose these kind of rules to their so called bahu beti….bt i find no logic behind dis illogical mentality…well said akriti…hats off to u for writing smthing really great on sch important n delicate issue…bcz v r living in society where mensturating is smthin vry sinful n embarrsing thing…a big applause for u….
Hey thanks. A big applause for every individual who stands up for their dignity . Also to every single person commenting here without hesitation 🙂
Thank you so much 🙂
I should have written about this issue long time back. Nevertheless, wrote it now. Mindsets need to be changed. It’s 2015.
You tell them Akriti! Be who you are sweet lady! 🙂
Excellent article! While I’m aware of no such restrictions in western culture (and that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, only that I’ve, personally, been fortunate in having not encountered them) there is still a lot of whispering and shame surrounding menstruation. It’s always been confusing to me. My own mother was embarrassed about purchasing sanitary items up to the end of her cycle.
And THAT is the cycle we need to put an end to. You’re right. Celebrate the biology, it’s a gift, and a privilege.
Thanks for thinking this way 🙂
Definitely an interesting subject. A bit ignorant of some societies, as for Christians, not Catholics, but say Baptists and those of that ilk, there is no unclean or restrictions. Those mentions are in the Old Testament and meant to stay there. Any Christian denomination that does have restrictions are not following Jesus as the fulfillment and atonement of what those Old Testament laws said. And really are skewing if what those scriptures said. A woman wasn’t meant as being unclean but as untouchable during this time. Blood was something seen as important during the Old Testament and anything to do with it was a very serious matter.
Now, Christians, at least this one, knows the laws in the Old Testament were given because there was a need to be given. God didn’t merely pass down a law for no reason. Something in that society gave cause for it to be given. Then from there the law was often times taken to a different level and place than God intended. Jesus often said in the New Testament how “you have heard” “But I say”. He was correcting the Pharisees of the time.
Sorry I’ve gone on about this but the idea of Christians, or a generalization of all Christians, much like generalization of all people being included in certain behaviors of that religion that are bad, tend to get me going. And I enjoy talking about Bible things at times.
It is a said thing that people still have these ideas of unclean in any sort of way. When Jesus was sacrificed for us God then later told Peter when Peter had an issue about foods, not to call anything unclean that He had made clean.
Sorry again for the long comment.
No why the apology ? Feedback is always welcome Ronovan. You taking out time and commenting here is very much appreciated. So thank you for stopping by 🙂
P.S : I admire men who can speak up on women’s issues.
Great Blog Akriti! So proud of you for bringing this up for conversation.
In the land where we celebrate Navratras and worship Mata rani…In hopes that she blesses us and forgives our sins… Its almost Sad to see that the Very Same Land belittles and demean women together with many atrocities in the name of religion And culture..
Surprisingly everyone fails to Admit God/Goddess Just created us and gave us Love! Rest we as people created(religion,caste,cultures,rules,etc!)We make them and we break them as they fit or fulfill our own wishes!
Women when voices her resentment she is considered Shameless!
Women when doesn’t say anything is considered Courageless!
No One Understands that Women when we don’t speak are actually saving our culture from shame.. And when we do speak we are only trying to open doors for our next generation of women so that they can breathe a little easier and live their lives with great dignity and respect and be proud of their Womanhood.
Please its just Menstruation!! STOP using it as another Tool for Discrimination!!
Yes enough of the shaming. Not required. A woman should be proud of her womanhood. She should own it.
THANKS for the lovely feedback. I really appreciate it 🙂
Thank you Akriti for writing this post. I believe in and strongly support women power.
Awesome piece of note highlighting the bizzare myths of so called civil society.
High time now to come out of these phobias n stigmas and respect women for what she is.Menstruation is a biological need of a womans body so nothing to make an issie about it especially when we say we have advanced n excelled in every field.
God bless you Aakriti for raising this untouched n hushed up but very important issue.
Thank you for feeling this way , being a man 🙂
Hey that’s a well researched and beautifully written piece !! I perisonally haven’t faced any such discriminations while growing up but am aware of ppl following such ancient and baseless practices !!
We need to educate ppl and help in getting rid of such old fashioned practices which are down right disgusting and ridiculous and have no scientific reason or backing .
Keep writing on such socially relevant subjects and spreading awareness .
All the best
I must say I’ve been abiding by the religious rules (of not touching the holy books nor physically pray while menstruating) even though my mind questions it. Reading your blog post won’t make me stop doing the above (old habits die hard) but I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who shares the same views on the topic. I hope one day I get brave enough to live on my own terms and stop worrying about dogmas that man created.
Hats off to you for being honest 🙂
That’s a great post and I could not agree more. I have been denied entry cos I was menstruating and my hostel warden knew so she held me back from entering a famous Shiv temple. I was 17 then and till date I have not had an opportunity to visit that city and temple.
I have been shouted at by a priest cos I touched an idol and I really felt bad.
There are temples where dress code for women is saree and if you are not wearing one, you better stay out. That’s India for us and it makes me super sad 🙁
Next time stand up for yourself…:)
When I was a kid this practice was followed in my house too. I have two elder sister and being their baby brother they always loved to carry me in their arms around the house. They were my only friends in my house to play with, they helped me in my studies and my homework. But during those days I wasn’t allowed to go near them as kid i never understood the reason but while growing up got to learn a lot and that knowledge brought questions and my questions in turn brought realisation to my family. Nothing in this world should stop me from hugging my elder sisters who take care of my like my mother nothing should stop me from taking care of them and this is a stupid notion that it is a sin to go near them during their period. Family bonding and affection love and care cannot be bound by these unwanted rules. Prayers if are from the heart are never impure be it during a period or not in a period. God himself had a mother a sister. No scripture of any religion has written proof of any story of period of a woman being impure. I am happy you raised this point I couldn’t have done so much justice to this facet in society
Proud of men like you.Really am.
Hello! I love your posts!
I have recently nominated you for a creative bloggers award.
There are details on my blog! 😉
Hey thanks 🙂
Exactly, Cut the Crap and Stop Shaming Women on their biological powers that nature has bestowed upon us. Great post and yes its 2015, can we like get over such inanities, thanks on behalf of myself and all women for standing up and celebrating our dignities.
P.S:Muslim communities too have a lot of stereotypical and superstitious stuff going on for women folk during that time of month…. :-/
Personally I always wondered what;s dirty in the blood that when un-spilled creates a new human being?
Hey thanks for the lovely comment 🙂
There are always many sides to any issue. Here whenever we go to the temple, we go when we are fresh or after having a bath. So we don’t feel comfortable to enter a temple during periods. I don’t think there is anything wrong in it. Hindus usually go to temples whenever they want.So it is ok if women do not go when they have periods. Long back, my husband’s aunt used to tell me that in the villages women had to work very hard from morning to night. Time of periods was a time of rest for them. They had to sit separately but they did not mind because they got to rest more, a change from the daily grind of life. At that time time they did not know another life. It is only when we compare do we know the differences.Most women do not feel they are being demeaned because of their periods. Maybe because it is the way they have lived their life. Regards.
There is a huge difference between not wanting to go and being told not to go. So let’s get clear on that. Now for the hygiene, what are you implying here ? That women don’t bathe during periods ? Really ? They’re dirty ?? Woww
As for resting , a woman doesn’t have to be struck out of the house or the temple to have rest. Lastly, i don’t go by religious explanations coz i mentioned it pretty well in my post. If people want to continue living their lives in a suppressive way, their call. That too coz of some myth that was written by man in a book written by man himself , sure do it. But a lot of us are way better than that and the men in our lives are evolved. I’m proud of them. I mean saying, that because of a biological phenomena , you don’t feel like going to a temple ?You feel you’re not clean enough. My god. You amaze me. I’m glad i had better people growing up.Really glad. I wasn’t passed on dogmatic attitudes whereby women are not considered worthy enough. Lastly , it’s all about choices . So we’re making those choices and a lot of us a re lucky to be around people who are not stuck up. Sure, there are others who want to. Continue doing that but kindly don’t impose it on the rest of us !! I’d deem it a kind favour if next time you think rationally before commenting on my posts. Else, ignore and do not comment. This thought process that you have – you can spout it out on the women around you , not here. It’s 2015 and we’re living in a progressive world. I’d like to be a part of it and not of a world where people like you enslave a young woman’s psyche at every step.
P.S : Din’t mean to sound disrespectful coz’ there’s nothing personal here. However i prefer rationality over blind faith any day !!!
Brave. Bold. I love it!
dont’ know what to reply you said the whole universe is having this issue…every religion
Akriti such a beautiful article,,,, keep up the gud work!!
Thank u 🙂