I pass by a temple everyday as I walk to the corner of my street to hail an auto that would take me to my work place. Today I noticed a girl standing outside with a glum look on her face. She must have been eleven or twelve I guess. Her face was smeared with turmeric and the yellow streak on her pale brown skin was disturbing. A minute later her mother walks out and the girl stretches her palm forward for the prashad, but her mother stops her saying that she should not eat this today. It did not take me long to figure out what was happening. The girl frowned and slowly walked ahead as her mother looked for stains around her skirt, and after a self approval she walked ahead of her daughter. I stood and watched this while waiting for the auto waalas to ferry me by agreeing on the meter price. This incident irritated me. It angered me more that it is 2015 and people still treat a girl on her period as something disgusting.
Menstruation is a natural process and is a sign of a healthy body. Since I studied in an all girls convent, we were educated about every aspect of menstruation. It is as natural as breathing and I don't know why people make such a big hue and cry about it. One fine day I woke up to my first period and informed my mother about it. She gave me a sanitary pad and that was the end of it. I knew how to use it so it was just normal for me. My grandmother came in to see me and refused to touch me. I was so annoyed that I stopped talking to her for a good while. My parents did not fuss much over it and I was allowed to go out and play just like how I was used to. My mother did not put in any restrictions while I was on my period. It came in every month and went away after a while. I was always an agile and sporty person and I did not stop being any of those just because I was on my period. Those four to five days were nothing special to me. It was just like any other day and nobody troubled me over it.
But the whole thing changed after I got married. Questions were asked about when I got my period. I don't think that it is anything dirty or embarrassing to let people know, but what annoys me the most is the indifference that comes with it. There were so many rules and restrictions and it troubled me to the core as it was something with zero logic and was implemented just because it was passed on from one generation to other. I wasn't allowed to walk around without taking a bath, had to stay away from the God's area and had to oil myself and wash my hair everyday. I hated every bit of it and yet clenched my teeth and did it. But it did have a very adverse effect on me. I was made to feel like I was disgusting and untouchable if I had my period. This thing troubled my mind to such an extent that I began cursing myself for being a girl and having periods. It affected me psychologically so much that one fine day the periods stopped. I did not get them for months together. This caused my body to bloat, acne increased and the mood swings were crazy. Worst times of my life, ever.
While you are married and are desperately trying not to have a baby, you know what a heart attack a missed period can lead to. I went to my doctor who confirmed that I was not pregnant and that PCOD combined with stress was messing with my menstruation cycle. I felt that because of the way I was getting treated during my period, maybe I did not want it to happen at all. I know it sounds stupid, but somehow makes sense to me. During the early days a woman on her period was kept aloof so that she is not prone to any infections during that time. People were trying to protect her, but as centuries passed this whole thing turned into a damned circus. Women are not allowed to touch anyone during their period. Or even pickles for that matter. I still don't know what is the logic behind that. The woman is expected to wet herself from head to toe and her clothes the minute she gets her period, irrespective of what time of the day it is. A woman is expected to not sit in the seating area before a bath. Almost like as if a bath is going to stop her periods forever.
I have seen some women who do super drama while they are on their period. Some take the route where they consider themselves disgusting and sit on the floor or in some corner and give elaborate hints to everyone around that they are on their period. Some others take the route where they expect TLC from their partners while on their period. They do drama about not being able to stand, sit, walk etc. Maybe some women actually go through such stuff, but most of them do it just for the attention. I for one, continue doing the things that I would normally do. Ever since we moved to a place of our own, I know that there are no restrictions what so ever. The first month I moved here, I got my period. After a long long time. Maybe my body wanted me to relax as well. I walked around the house freely as I wanted to and did all that I normally do. I was thrilled to enjoy a happy period. My body understood too and my cycle became normal since that day. Like clockwork and without any medication. A day on my period is just like any other day for me. I exercise, do yoga, cook, dance, pray and do exactly the things I do on a regular day.
|Image source: Do we want boards like this?|
I'm not a person who visits temples often but I do not see the reason why a menstruating woman is not allowed inside a temple. If there is a situation where I have to go to a temple, I would go. Yes, even if I was on my period. At some temples there are huge boards set up citing that menstruating women are not allowed. What about rapists? Or that man who beats his wife everyday? Or that woman who steals from her neighbors? Or the lady who abuses her children? All of them are allowed. Except for a woman on her period. If it was something impure than God would not have created the concept of menstruation at all. It is a natural phenomena where the uterine lining sheds every month if there is no pregnancy. And if there is no pregnancy this lining is not needed as it is important only to protect the fetus. Every healthy girl gets this every month. It does not make her impure. Not does it makes her sacred for going through it. It is nothing big at all. People need to stop treating women indifferently while they are on their period. Every woman deserves a safe and healthy period where no one bothers her with unnecessary questions and subjects her to indifference.
Set her free. Let her be.