The vicious circle of menstrual taboos

Let’s-break-the-vicious-circle-of-menstrual-tabboo1

“Today I learned something new at school. Periods. Mamma says I’m a big girl now. I should be careful and should not talk about it in front of Papa and my brother. I should also sit with closed legs and behave properly.”

These are some of the eternal statements that young girls usually get to hear from their mothers. I don’t really remember the story of my first menses, but they were a few taboos that I found unacceptable even back then as a teen and upon which I would now like to throw some light.

I find it very problematic that most of the mothers don’t discuss this with their daughters before they begin to menstruate. This discussion always takes place after the shock and for a girl between the ages of 10-14 or even younger, it really does come as a shock to see their favourite dress stained with blood one fine day all of a sudden. Some might even think that they are sick or got themselves hurt ‘in the place where they pee from’. Yes, that’s what it’s called. I have had experiences of mothers either pointing downwards or using the phrase above but never really explaining things the right way.

Then there is the school which plays its part in further hushing up the topic and creating more confusion in the minds of young girls and majorly in boys as well. I remember when we once had a seminar on menses when I was in the seventh grade. Mine hadn’t started yet, but I had a vague idea about them. While the boys were sent out to play, the girls were made to gather in a room where they were introduced to menstruation and sanitary napkins for the first time. As expected later, the girls were all giggly and the boys were seen strutting around, hinting that they knew what it was all about and additionally shouting out the names of popular sanitary napkin companies in order to embarrass the girls. Schools really do a great job in messing up young girls and boys in this regard because Instead of having a co-ed seminar and focusing on sensitising the topic, they go for the most convenient route they can find, which is by segregation.

Another thing that I remember during those first years was how I and/or the other girls were taught to keep this hushed up. So you should not mention it in front of your father, uncles, brothers, elders and such. Again, this kind of attitude just reinforces the fact that menstruation is something to be embarrassed about and should be kept a secret. Or the time when you go to buy a packet of sanitary napkin, the discomfort you feel to tell the man standing behind the counter that you need Whisper Ultra which is then compounded by the fact that he in turn puts it into a black polythene bag. So nobody should see what a girl is carrying because it is shameful, right? In the later years that follow, boys again make fun of girls which further forces them to go inside their shells.

There was another incident where I got to know about yet another taboo around menses and this not time, it was not by an adult, but by a female friend who belonged to my age group. When I wanted to accompany my friend to a temple, I was prevented from doing so because according to the reason furnished by her, I was not allowed to enter the temple because I was menstruating. Since I am not a Hindu, I was not aware of this fact and apologised appropriately as I didn’t want to hurt the religious sentiments of my friend. Later I was explained that in Hinduism, as women are considered unclean during this period anything they touch is also believed to lose its power. So if they touch anything in the prayer room for instance, the deity that is being worshipped will leave and evil will take over the idol. One will then be praying to some spirit and not the deity one has in their mind and faith and the whole area would then have to be cleansed by calling a priest or a saint. Same goes for the kitchen. Menstruating women and girls should not enter the kitchen, touch the utensils or cook because yes, you’ve got it right, they are considered to be unclean and impure. At that time and during that age I did not realise that I was not doing something wrong, rather being wronged or that my brainwashed friend should be the one who should apologise in the first place. However, I don’t see it as her fault, she only reproduced what she had been taught was right.

Sadly, there are still a lot of women and not just middle-ages mothers and elderly grandmas but also many educated women who still contribute to the tabooing of menstruation and the process of shaming and embarrassing young girls on its account. We still do not take our ability to menstruate as a pride.

On this note, I would like to end my take on people’s attitude towards menstruation and the taboos surrounding it and would additionally recommend everyone to read Gloria Steinem’s If Men Could Menstruate for a hearty laugh and for taking pride in your monthly struggle.

Image courtesy: Menstrupedia
P.S. This article was originally published on Menstrupedia’s blog and later on The Alternative and Youth Ki Awaaz.

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99 thoughts on “The vicious circle of menstrual taboos

  1. Very well written post on a subject that sorely needs to be discussed a lot more than it is. In my family, you could not even touch anything or sit anywhere while menstruating. It’s dehumanising to women and I can’t really fathom why highly educated people like my parents believe in this shit!

      1. Oh, it doesn’t matter now. I’ve moved out and live on my own. However, I did try discussing the scientific aspects of it while I was still living with them and it all ended up in a shouting match with loads of tears and abuses. I think it’s just a blind following of tradition, and is quite separate from their knowledge of biology, which they also know about. It’s like those doctors who blame their wives for giving birth to girls while knowing very well who is responsible for determining sex.

  2. And you have to have code names for periods and say things like “I am having my chums” or “I am down”. and code names for sanitary towels. My mother calls them ST and used to tell me to hide them. For the last year and a half I have been quite open about my periods and cramps in front of my dad. I no longer pretend to have gas when I have cramps.

  3. I could sense the anguish and I empathise with you. I am part of Indian society but yes I belong to a small minority who think differently. I’ve not had to deal with those who indulge in such nonsense. I have a daughter and I know she will grow up without the trauma. She will learn to view the practitioners of such beliefs with sympathy. As for me I always have and always will ridicule those who try to other menstruation as anything other than just a bodily function

  4. Oh.. these stories were just cooked up so that the chauvnistic men would do all the chores and the women could rest in peace during thheir menses

  5. That’s why they framed rules such that you shouldnt enter the kitchen, shouldnt touch anything etc. If the men were considerate there would have been no need for such stories. While these stories actually didnt make the men to work, it actually served as an excuse to make you mother in law work 😛

  6. I agree with the first part..that all this ‘considering menses to be a taboo’ is uncalled for. That is sooo true.
    Regarding the not entering temple/kitchen..the interpretation is wrong.. there is some scientific reason which has been lost as the concept has passed down generations. And its not something to be ashamed about..

      1. It breaks my heart to see women themselves defending and justifying nonsense. List out the scientific reasons and debate it out. If you can’t stop assuming there could have been reasons. Even if there were some stupid concepts in the past we as humans have enough knowledge to know it is bullshit. By any standard stupid Indian religious rituals that claim hygiene as a reason is utter nonsense and I am prepared to fight it out in a debate

      2. As far as I know, women were told to sit in one place because they needed rest during that period due to intense back pain and tummy ache. In those days, women used to do lot of physical household chores, including taking care of domestic animals such as cows and buffaloes. So when you are menstruating and are in pain, how can you do all that chores? However, with the passage of time, that reason was misinterpreted and another stupid rule of temples was added to that. Sigh…

  7. Many people know the scientific and biological reason as to why women menstruate, and what happens then. THen they choose to outright ignore it, and use terms like impure,unclean and so on to belittle and put down women.

    I think any person who has had basic biology education knows that there is no so called ‘dirtiness’ involved that would make women untouchable or cause it to spread..

    As far as the religious nuts go, what should be celebrated is shunned by them as being unholy. 🙄

    1. Yes, you are quite right. I heard it is celebrated or used to in West India. I come from the North and I never experienced any kind of celebration. Well, for that matter I also believe that North is much more narrow-minded than it’s counterparts.

  8. I happened to read this article of yours and i am happy and sad at the same time. Happy for, that someone like you is really bold to speak openly about such things and act against such taboos in our society and sad for being in 21st century and still witnessing these things and the dogmatic approach of the society. I am your follower from now onwards.. 🙂

  9. The biological reason in Indian society of keeping women out of kitchen or temple was that the women in earlier days had to do lots of hard work and more appropriately physically strenuous work like drawing water, washing, cooking, grinding floor, etc… So in these menstruating days, a women was asked too have rest and sleep, so that she doesnt loose blood or becomes weak… The whole concept of keeping women out of temple was that, as per my guess, that we didnt had whisper sanitary pads and such stuff at that time and so usig cloth (probably) didnt assure any protection against leakages and in short staining in temples or house,,, so it was i guess the whole cleanliness and sanitation that was followed… Our indian tradition have always have and had scientific or logical reasoning… It was in the middle ages that this whole stuffed was shunned by so called priest or knowledgeable persons…

    And if you say it was shunned, there are still traditions in indian society that when a girl menstruates first time, it is celebrated like a festival in which women and men alike bestow girl with blessings, gifts and many dishes are served and made in this honor..

    The onset of WOMANHOOD is celebrated.. and i love that part..

    I have been through this taboo in my house too… but my mother was supprortive in this and taught me to think logically… And I have let my husband now the same and he has been very supportive in this….

    So its the whole things of logical and scientific thinking… It just that our past generatons have bot thought or were not not allowed think about the same…

    1. Even if we agree to this reasoning, what about now? Have people stopped using their common sense? Because these taboos are still practised and not just in small town or rural areas but also in big cities and urban/suburban areas.
      And I have heard about this celebration part from a colleague in West India. I am from the North and have never even seen, let alone experience any kind of celebration. I am not sure in which region is this celebration carried out.

      1. I find your aticles very interesting & thought provoking
        Puberty ceremony (PeddaManishi or Pushpavathi) is widely celebrated in South India.. atleast in Andhra Pradesh..

    2. I disagree with this kind of explanations because they just go along the lines of “our culture is great and we had a good scientific explanation for everything” instead of critically looking at our faults and things we have been doing wrong.

      It does not matter what the idea started out as and we have no proof how the idea was intended to be, but what matters is today – how it affects you or me. So, what if the initial idea was great – that does not justify bad treatment today.

      Also, if they wanted women to get rest, why not just say – take rest if you don’t feel too good. So, women were in an inferior position then too, that they had to use periods as an excuse to somehow get rest?

    3. Hi Prachee

      The explanation that you gave is absolutely perfect. I thank the times today that people now know the real reason( atleast some). Lets hope the day comes when we are able to convince each one and all about it

  10. I can understand the frustration behind calling a regular humanly event a taboo. But I must insist that you consider hygiene as a plausible explanation behind not allowing women in their periods from entering kitchens and temples. As always, religion and faith are powerful media for communicating ideas. It’s often lost in the spirituality but most of Hinduism’s teaching have a sound scientific base. When was the last time you did something bad when you were told god was watching?

    1. When you state that hygiene could be one reason or a sound scientific base another, I would appreciate that you also provide sound examples defending your argument. I am yet to come across a sound scientific reason (as you call it) which justifies women not being allowed in temples and kitchens. And lastly, please refrain from using arguments which involve God. I am agnostic, I don’t believe in God (refer Netiquette).

    2. Sorry Suraj. I couldn’t resit myself from commenting. Though I am a deep believer in God, but I consider God as a higher power or source energy, not man made fictional characters.

      “When was the last time you did something bad when you were told god was watching?” Isn’t it ridiculous to not do something bad when God is watching? I would be proud of myself if I don’t do anything bad, even when God isn’t watching.

      And for your record, most of the extremists & terrorists do all the killings to impress their so called God.

  11. if the whole thing of exclusion is on the health and hygiene of women why are women today made to sleep of rags ( read it as sacks) in some dark isolated rooms.during her stressful days??.. more than faith it is because she is not available for having sexual acts that ‘he’ has told her to move out of ‘spaces’…. menstruation thus becomes a taboo.. it is beyond any health consideration or for that matter hygiene or religion that women are considered impure during her periods…. the concept of she being a sexual body is alone the matter of fact of having given such social taboos.

    1. Hi Sheethal, thank you for letting me know about yet another misconduct. I was not aware of this. And never saw it from this perspective. People are going to give excuses all the time in the name of religion which in turn some justify as science (read above), but the fact remains, that women are mistreated for various reasons while menstruating.

  12. Thanks Japleen. My heartfelt admiration to you for writing this article. My fiancée being my best friend from nursery school, and growing up with some sisters, I saw this ridiculous conduct of Indian society from very close. And also I faced most uncomfortable situation while buying sanitary napkins from medical stores being a guy. Inspite of being criticized for it from family or other close people, we always insisted on playing a bit rebel with these issues & make people understand how normal it is. We are living in a strange society where it’s very normal to buy alcohol or cigarette openly, but you have to hide sanitary napkins or condoms while buying. But I’m hopeful that very soon things are going to change, people are waking up from these stupid programmings & finding freedom of thoughts. And definitely credit goes to people like you.

    1. Thank you Sourav, I’m glad you are conscious of such things and don’t follow age old taboos blindly. I believe only we the youth can bring a change by rebelling against these nonsense taboos and superstitions.

  13. The irony of menstruation and Hindu sanctity is strange. It’s true, we, Hindu women are made to believe that we are unclean during those days and should not touch anything related to worship of any deity. However, ironically, the holy shrine of Kamaksha, Assam, which is believed to be built on the ovary of Sati is said to menstruate every month and clothes soaked in the menstrual blood are given to the devotees which are considered pious and believed to protect the devotee possessing it from all sorts of hassles. Isn’t it a paradox. It clearly indicates the politics religion plays, especially when it comes to women.

  14. I’m a hindu but my mother never made any rules to follow on my periods. She didn’t light diyas in the prayer room the first three days, but that didn’t concern me so I was cool about it. And mothers should seriously educate their daughters on this matter before they menstruate because I remember my first time was a shock for me. I thought I had some disease cause I masturbated. I was inconsolable.
    Also, in our society, we have this ritual celebration when a girl gets her first period. I Never understood why the neighbours need to know that you have started menstruating.

    1. Yes, mothers should educate but not just girls, also boys and this discussion should take place in front of the whole immediate family, i.e. mother, father and siblings. There should be no shame and no awkwardness about it.

  15. Thank you for this wonderful article. I am American, and lived and worked in Gujarat in 2007-2008. Because of the stress of the menstruation taboo/shame I literally stopped having my cycle for 3 months when I first moved there! Because menstruation is hush-hush, the washrooms and other facilities are not female friendly. None of the washrooms had disposal for sanitary products (was I supposed to carry it out or leave it on the floor?), many washrooms had no soap, etc. I could only find large “pads” and no tampons (except in Mumbai). I think the stress of it made my body hormonally go out of whack. One time a trip to temple was planned around the time of my cycle and my friend told me I needed to take some drugs to stop it from coming. I did, and I felt ashamed for hindering my body’s natural process, but I didn’t want to offend anyone.
    I certainly don’t believe that any western culture is better, and American “culture” has so many problems. There are many many things that I love about India and her vast culture, but the oppression of womanhood throughout much of India is not one of them. I lived in a more rural town, and I didn’t get to experience much of the progressiveness of larger cities. So I am joyful knowing that you and so many others are helping to make vast changes in perceptions of women, and educating of a new generation. The whole world has a long way to go. A woman’s cycle is sacred.

    1. Hi, I’m sorry to hear that your stay in India turned out like this. I wish you had a more wonderful stay here. I try to create awareness as much as I can about major issues concerning women. Trying to make India a better place to live in…

      1. Please don’t get me wrong. It was wonderful in soooo many ways. And I would love to go back. This was just an issue that was just difficult for me. Thanks for listening.

  16. You have beautifully voiced the inhibitions most girls have regarding this subject! But i have a good reason to believe that these mainly exist in India. People abroad discuss such matters with great objectivity. Maybe if every one discussed it freely, men would be less curious and sexually driven and the rate of rapes in India would go down!

  17. Well written, well said!
    I heartily agree. You have written down precisely everything that a girl goes through in India. As a teen I had made a pact with myself that my daughter will be free of all these stupid inhibitions and taboos.
    Why call the vagina a place from which pee comes from? It is biologically incorrect anyways!
    Loved it!

  18. Me and my team have been working on a project where we are working on a solution for Sex Education for university students. Reading this just motivated me to work and come up with something substantial that can really bring about a change. 🙂

    1. Hi Anvay, I am so glad to know what you are doing. If I could be of any help, let me know. I would like to know more about this project. And I am very happy that my article motivated you. 🙂

  19. Well, I broke such taboos long ago and my parents were super supportive. For me, it was a natural process and everyone should take it normally. In college, few guys thought it was a very sexually exciting thing and had no clue what it really was all about, even though they were all science grads. Interestingly, when I lived in Indonesia, the young batch in their mid twenties working in my team, quite openly talked about it. I found the guys supporting their female colleagues during client meetings etc. if they had cramps and not feeling well. if anyone stained, they openly joked with each other too….so easy

    1. Hi Aditi, it is nice to hear that your parents have been supportive, I hope all parents are like this. I think even in cities here in India there are some young women and men who are casual about it (at least I any my male friends are), but I guess we still have a long way to go.

  20. We need more women like you! I have always hated this behavior of older indian women, but NEVER thought of speaking up against it!

  21. I understand all the concerns you have raised here and have been through all these questions myself. Agreeing with you on everything you wrote about how awkward it is made for a girl if she starts to menstruate. On the concept of temples and household work however, even though your friend gave you the superstitious reason, there is a small logic behind a few actions. Earlier the girls were strictly not allowed to enter kitchen or do other household work because considering the body is week, and women in our culture are usually not given any rest, they were supposed to just stay away from work and rest. However the reason degenerated and lost its logic over time. I have myself not understood why the process of the most celebrated aspect of a woman becoming fertile is made awkward in our culture, but it is just that the whole tradition has lost the logic because of which it started and people are just blindly following things.

  22. hi! i am glad to know that someone else is also trying to get rid of these notion. i (a non-hindu) have been brought up by my mother in the most ideal way when it comes to mensuration. I knew what was going to happen to me when I turned 13. When all my friends took a sick leave from school in those days, my mother never restrained me from going to the school or taking my bhangra lessons or even going and playing basketball with my guy friends. though i was not that open to talk about it that freely with my brother and father, still, no one ever stopped me to enter the kitchen or to even worship. “take a bath, get cleaned and pray as much as u want”, is what i have been taught.

    to add to this, my religion mentions that there is nothing as pure as the menstrual blood as it is a sign that u are fertile and have the gift of giving life to someone.

    kudos!

  23. The only reason why women were not allowed to enter the kitchen or cook during this time was to give them rest from their domestic chores….which including cleaning and making the temple……sadly this health reason has been turned into a taboo and superstition and I am not ashamed of declaring that I, a practicing Hindu, have been to all major Hindu shrines and temples during my periods….And i think it is high time the segregation is stopped

    1. Yes it is and whatever the reasons were during that time, they have been badly misinterpreted and it is high time to create awareness about it. I think Aditi Gupta, founder of Menstrupedia is doing a very good job.

  24. hey! Me a so called hindu(i personally dont believe in religions and caste), have faced most of those situations! i wasn’t shocked of it when i had my menses first, coz i knew of it from my frns(!). But i still have the memory of losing my favourite white(!) frock. yeah, the 1st tym, i was made sleep down for all 5 days and i hated it! but later everything was fine except that not being allowed to enter temples!
    And coming to the reasons of not touching things and other taboos it is just shit. I am sure there can never be any appropriate scientific explanation for it. They have into existence only because, the temples and etc are dominated by males!
    I have male frns who r really open about it. yeah but i really dont like talking about it even with my girl frns. i keep myself out of those topics. i’ll try and change myself!
    Coming to celebrations, yeah it is celebrated in south India. Being a Telugu ill talk about Telugu tradition. When the girl happens to menstruate the 1st tym, the 1st 5 days they r made to sit in a corner of the house(not in my case, i was given the freedom to roam in the house,but not go out, that too coz i was rebellious in nature). Then a saree ceremony is conducted in a big way, with all the relatives in attendance.they r given gifts and presents. But i dont see it as a celebration. I feel there is no need to inform ur kin about ur menstruation.
    I am not open about it with my father and brother, not even with my mother. But i will make sure that my daughter will be free from all this stuff and would even be free with my husband. and if a boy i will surely educate him about all this.
    I will try to be more open about it atleast with my frns, not if my parents.
    Kudos to u for this article.

    1. Hi, thank you for stopping by! I feel this is very good approach, whatever we have experienced in our young age, we should make sure that our children don’t, be it a boy or a girl. And yes, I’m trying to make a better place for my daughter as well as son to live in. They’ll be free from all this rubbish.

  25. weird n illogical notions people have about biology especially when it comes to women. And not just in Hindus, these taboos about women being unclean during menstruation are in every religion. A friend of mine was made to sleep on floor during hers chums and another one wasn’t allowed to offer prayers during that time n both of them were non Hindus……..luckily my sister and i never suffered from any such taboos as my mother was very open about it and never put any taboos

    1. That is really very disgusting. As it is a woman is in so much pain during menstruation and on top of it, she is made to sleep on the floor. I hope your friend doesn’t need to now.

  26. Very well written, I too can’t understand the big fuss about it and frankly being a male myself I don’t understand whats there to make fun of. Its one of the natural processes which makes females different from males but other than it is nothing much. Like you correctly identified the problem principally is not just about the males treating it as a hush hush affair but the educated and civilized women who are embarrassed to talk about it as if it is a problem. It is a hassle, no doubt, but since every female has to go through it is no big deal. The real issue is to free the minds of women to really understand its not a taboo, its as natural as urine and shit.

    1. Hi, thank you for stopping by. I think the only thing we can do is to create more and more awareness. And also by talking about it openly, freely, casually in front of everyone, be it children or elders. 🙂

  27. I agree to all you said. I would like to add a few points.
    1. My parents too follow those customs of temple. They don’t say it but i feel they follow just to ‘fit in’ the society.
    2. Mom used to tell me that, in olden times there was a separate room and toilet for those days. And she used to explain me how difficult it was for women those days. But now things have changed so much that it is difficult to imagine life where you can’t ease your back pain against a very comfortable couch or bean bag placed on bed. So, in a way, I am happy that at least there is this much improvement.
    3. If you even mention these stuffs to Indian Hindu priests, you will be banned from the temples.
    4. I remember once there was yearly Ganesh Chaturti pooja when i was 12 or 13. Having lot of junk food had got my stomach upset. Even after having bath, I was repeatedly going for the nature’s call. After I was back from the toilet trip, I was allowed to attend the pooja only if I again had bath. Cz it is considered impure if you had a nature’s call. Another day I saw my brother having the same problem. And in periods, you cannot actually have a bath n say it is done right? That is why we are not allowed in temples on those days. This is my mom’s explanation on why temples don’t allow this.
    5. It took me to be 21 to start talking to dad about it in codes. Even now it is codes. But at my husband’s native, they all talk about it in the open even though they are quite strict about not going to pooja room on those days.
    6. I don’t know about pure and impure stuffs and I don’t want to know. I am a spiritual person and NOT a religious one. When I go to pray or meditate, I prefer myself to be clean. And I don’t feel clean on those days (I don’t know about others). That is the only reason I follow(read ‘tolerate’) this temple rule. Everything else they say is bullshit. If god had created us, he would not have created such things in us which would be offensive to him. And according to Hinduism, God created us.

    It was a really nice read on the topic. Happy that you took the guts to tell this in the open. For me, it would be difficult. Thanks for writing it though. Happy that I am not alone.

    1. Hi Preethika, thank you for stopping by. It always makes me happy when other women tell me that they have grown out of these taboos and that they open and casual about their monthly pains. 🙂

  28. Nice article Jalpeen…but I should add that menstruation is a taboo not only in Hindu families but for people of all religions, one can read some nasty or not so appropriate things written about it in dossier of any religion…I wrote a post on my blog related with similar subject and you can read in comments section how ill informed people are about this subject, this is just because this is not discussed openly in proper way.

    http://selfrealization-vinay.blogspot.com/2012/12/worshiping-while-menstruating-whats.html

      1. Hi Vinay, thank you for stopping and giving feedback, highly appreciated! 🙂 I read your post and most importantly the comments below. The “urine in your pad” was just disgusting and as well as hilarious. People will come up with any kind of absurd explanations to defend their age-old customs. Keep writing!

  29. I am a person who is rlly disgusted with the hindu taboos regarding menstruation.Girls are blindly following these stupid directions given to them.Actlly its the mistake of the elders who hav failed to change with the times and r givin these wrong direction.I hope the next generation leaves such meaningless practices,but im afraid it wil continue fr a long tym.
    Your article is fantastic and to the point ,Great work!

  30. Just happy finding that there are many others who feel m thnk like me….we need to spread this message far and wide..kudos to u ,Japleen again.

  31. Hey Japleen, I read the article.
    I am also a Hindu from an orthodox community.
    Yes, menstruation is still a taboo but it is relaxed compared to earlier days. During my Grandma’a days girls were not allowed to sleep during their menstrual days. They sleep on the floor on a spread of bed sheet and no pillows. Then they should wash the bed sheet and cloths. They are not supposed to touch anyone who goes too “pooja room” or temple.
    When my mother’s generation this trend started relaxing a bit. Then in my time. We can do anything expect. touching those who go to the temple and we should discuss about it with anyone (especially boys).
    At first I thought it was okay (I was just a kid). Then I started thinking about it. All women goes through menstrual period. Why be *this* orthodox?
    Maybe entering the temple part is okay. That is one tradition we follow since the birth of Hinduism (other times we are allowed inside the temple).
    The explanation given by my elders is that, menses is actually unfertilized ovum so we keeping the house of god “Pure” by not going there. There is no scientific explanation or anything as such behind it, just pure belief. It’s a belief as part of the religion.

    If your friend something like evil then, know this. Entering a temple during periods is a taboo but there is no evil involved there. Your friend was just exaggerating. Menses is something that happens in women. So if women can’t respect or understand this then it’s just..
    I don’t know disturbing. When I was in school many girls made fun of me when I carried the tampon in my pocket. My question to them will be (What are you transgender or something?).

    1. Hey Japleen, I read the article.
      I am also a Hindu from an orthodox community.
      Yes, menstruation is still a taboo but it is relaxed compared to earlier days. During my Grandma’a days girls were not allowed to sleep on bed during their menstrual days. They slept on the floor on a spread of bed sheet and no pillows. Then they should wash the bed sheet and their own cloths. They are not supposed to touch anyone who goes into “pooja room” or temple.
      When my mother’s generation came, this trend started relaxing a bit. Then in my time. We can do anything except touching those who go to the temple and we should not discuss about it with anyone (especially boys).
      At first I thought it was okay (I was just a kid). Then I started thinking about it. All women goes through menstrual period. Why be *this* orthodox?

      Maybe entering the temple part is okay. That is the one tradition we follow since the birth of Hinduism (other times we are allowed inside the temple).
      The explanation given by my elders is that, menses is actually an unfertilized ovum so we are keeping the house of god “Pure” by not going there. There is no scientific explanation or anything as such behind it, just pure belief. It’s a belief as part of the religion.

      If your friend something mentioned like evil then, know this. Entering a temple during periods is a taboo but there is no evil involved there. Your friend was just exaggerating. Menses is something that happens in all women and it is natural. So if women can’t respect or understand this then it’s just..
      I don’t know disturbing. When I was in school many girls made fun of me when I carried the tampon in my pocket. My question to them will be (What are you transgender or something?).
      LOL

  32. If anything, men should carry extra respect for women on their periods.
    They go through a ton to be biologically fertile so that they can create new life.

    I still remember I used to treat my ex like a super princess if she was on her’s … and those 7-9 days was the time she could make me carry out her instructions as she wished even if half of them were illogical as hell 🙂
    Anyway, “ex”. Sigh.

  33. You have written abt ol wat I used to think abt most of da time and I m very happy by reading this article cz earlier whenever I tried to convnce my female frnds to abolish dese taboos dey always disagreed

  34. Most Drug/ Retail stores in India still sell both ‘Sanitary Napkins’ and ‘Condoms’ wrapped in a newspaper followed by a black polythene carry bag.

  35. I remember that we had this “Skills for Adolescence Series by Bill Cosby” classes from 7th to 9th grades in my school. The course was excellent and I think helped in laying a foundation of me being a better human being. Topics such as this one, peer pressure, sex and mastrubation, etc.. were discussed openly by the staff and experts at various stages of the program in the presence of both the sexes. The only time boys were given a break and sent down to play was when an advanced session regarding menstruation had to be discussed with the girls. But that is very understandable. I feel I have been very fortunate to go to my school and that they had such a program which was executed brilliantly by the school’s own staff. I guess the foundation for respecting women/ girls needs to be laid at the school level.

    There is too much emphasis today on making sure that students score 99% marks rather than grooming them into becoming better human beings. In my opinion this is where we miss out.

    1. Very rightly said, schools play a major part in developing a child. More and more schools should adopt this method and have co-ed seminars and a Q&A session on sex education and menstruation. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂

  36. yeah its a silly thng that gals need to hide from dere father ..brother …husshhh hushhh … one of ma Nepalese frnd told me that its celebrated that gal has grown up nw .n she cud b procreator…

  37. A really well written article indeed. I always had something against labelling a girl unclean just because she was having her periods. Why should it be unclean when it only goes to prove that all our reproductive organs are functioning perfectly and we have no cause to worry.

  38. This is well written.. .I was going through the comments section… I agree the rules are senseless and demeaning to women… but this event is celebrated very grandly in south india. I am from a very orthodox south indian branhmin family. but I am a feminist too 🙂

    Some of the rules that none of you know are there are seven rules that are told to girls during their first period(as well as later ones too).. but we forgot to recite them after every period.
    1. you should not break anything(not even a twig)
    2. you should not cut anything like vegetables.
    3. you should not touch flowers or green leafs or plants
    4. you should not talk loud.
    5. you should not see a brahmin eating a meal.
    and I forgot the other 2.

    Whether I follow anything or not, I will sit separately during my periods because I can’t stand touching anything during my periods. I tried not sitting separate but that is too much work and with all the contractions and midol and bloating, it is better to sit separately to a side.

    As for the reason behind not entering temples, I agree that the reason got lost and it might not be the uncleanliness… I think it is because the egg has died (the egg that comes out of the ovaries and doesn’t become a fetus) and is coming out. In hindu religion, we maintain untouchablility during a death in the family too. this might be the same reason they told us not to visit temples or pray.

    Again, I am not a expert in this.. this is just my opinion…

  39. i m married and mother of a son. after my marriage i was working at my maternal place,my mother never restricted me doing anything during my periods. but now i m living with my in – laws and my mother in law is verry orthodox she dont let me touch anything…as we r living in a rentet house with 4- 5 family members it is very humilating. I used to sit on a chair which is given to me saperately and that is the only thing which i can touch in whole house. And she feel very proud in doing so as she thinks she very spritual. as i feed my son saperate cloths are given to me to hold him and rest of the family member hold with saperate . My husband supports me but he could not say it to her because of her emotional
    blackmailing. She has very strong reason hamare devi devta nahi manate ( our deities do
    nt allow)….now my period days are like hell to me….my heart dont allow to follow these ridicullous things..worse thing is that this happens every month.

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