Someone has rightly said, no amount of cash or high-end luxuries can determine the largeness of the frame of mind. While we continue to progress with Statue of Unity and Mars Orbiter mission, the mentality of most of us is still limited to warding off the evil eye with brooms and flip-flops!
In addition to the many superstitions, India is also a rich source of many taboos. And one of the most rampant taboos in India is the notion of impurity attached with the natural female body process of menstruation. While it is not to say that all of India is stuck with this taboo, it is safe to say that most of us still feel that covering sanitary napkins in newspapers and black polythene is the decent way to go about it!
Some of the most shocking things that prove menstruation is a taboo in India are-
1. If statistics are anything to go by, a shocking 70% of women in India still use old rags to soak the flow
2. In some cultures, it is a strict, “stay away from everything and everyone” phase for her
3. The very first period is celebrated. The consequent ones become matter of disgust
Strangely enough, in some cultures, celebrations are held on the commencement of menstruation. And in the same cultures, the already menstruating women are looked down upon as impure and filthy.
4. It is not just the women but even men find buying sanitary napkins for their women embarrassing!
But then there is also Arunachalam Muruganantham (referred to as menstrual man), who in his research discovered that in India, only 7% women use sanitary napkins and the reason why most are not using them is the expensive cost. So he came up with a solution and created a machine that could help any woman create world class napkins without having to spend heavily!
5. Ignorance and poverty are also the reason why most women resort to using sand, sawdust, leaves, and even ash to stem their periods!
6. It is not uncommon for boys to giggle and laugh during biology class when the topic of menstruation comes up
You know because blood coming from human body is always funny. Especially when it is the kind that is required to make another human being.
7. Impure, polluted, filthy, and yea, cursed!
Apparently in some parts of the county, menstruating women are cursed. We can’t figure out why exactly but may be it is because of the fact that they bleed. Yeah, may be that.
8. Some are also not allowed to water plants or sleep in the same bed as their husbands!
The nonsensical nature of this rule makes it appear as though it must have been created by someone who was high on green stuff at the time of framing the rule! Would plants also start menstruating if women on their period watered them?
9. Her touch can rot the food so kitchen is off-limits
If you are a woman and reading this, try touching vegetables in your fridge. I promise they will not rot.
10. Isolation is all she experiences. Even the utensils she is served the food in, are specially kept away for her to use during her period
Du-uh, because she is impure. Is it that hard to get?
11. In some families, she is treated as an untouchable during periods
“Members from her family never give her the glass of water in hand. It is kept anywhere near to her but, never given in her hands.”
12. If she touches pickle, it will spoil!
It is best if her shadow also does not fall over pickle.
13. This one never gets old- entering a religious place or attending religious ceremonies during periods is a strict NO!
People can still do without all the crazy rules mentioned above but this thing they can never let go. Why? Because God has specifications? And when did he ask the mankind to make temples in the first place, let alone make such good-for-nothing rules!
And finally another annoying rule whereby;
14. She cannot wash her hair for at least the first 2 days of her period!
This is again something weird passed on from elder ladies in the family. May be years back when bath had to be taken in streams, it used to get inconvenient to wash body and hair when bleeding. But in today’s age, it is just one of those illogical things that need to be followed in the family.
Fortunately though, not all cultures perceive menstruation as filthy or impure.
In Kashmiri Hindu culture, menstruating women are given special care considering the belief that they become weak due to blood loss. They do not consider them to be impure and rules like, a woman on her period can’t visit temples or can’t work don’t apply.
The founder of Sikhism, Guru Nanak himself had condemned the practice of treating a menstruating women as impure and different from others. Menstruation cycle is not considered to be a pollutant and though, the physical and psychological changes in women are understood, no sort of hindrances on them are applied.
Let’s just keep hoping for betterment, because just like sticking to menstrual taboo, hoping for betterment is another Indian thing. 🙂