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As 21st Century Citizens, Let’s Question Tradition And Chuck Out Menstrual Taboos

Posted: December 17, 2019

The original reasons for confining women during their periods is no longer relevant. Why continue with outdated customs, then?

“They said you couldn’t enter the temple when you are menstruating. So the Goddess quietly left.”

This powerful quote caught my attention recently and it got me thinking the taboo associated with women not going to the temple during ‘that time of the month’.

Unfortunately the very fact that defines vitality of a woman is taboo in our country. Menstruation.

Some history

A glance into history reveals that it was to give women some rest during those days of the month.

Given the high intensity physical workload in households women could get rest without worrying about the daily chores during that time of the month. Women had a lot of physical work in ancient times like grinding, carrying heavy objects, cleaning, cooking, farming etc. The menstrual cramps and mood swings made it hard to cope up with these chores. So the only way to force them to take rest was to impose some restrictions. This was to help their mental and physical health.

In the joint family set up there were always others to step in and help out so they could skip entering the kitchen to cook, temple to offer daily prayer etc. Also there was no sanitary equipment in the past and so they were asked to stay confined in a part of the house.

Also, men who worked outside home got off days in the month, but women who worked at home never did. They were constantly working without any weekends off. So this was a way to give them days off to rest. It was also believed that wild animals that roamed freely could smell blood and it risked a woman’s life. So confinement was a practical solution to address these challenges.

But all of this is no longer relevant!

But with technological advancements and help, women live normally during those days now. Praying never had anything to do with menstruation and no specific reason why women could not enter temples. It was more to say that women need not go anywhere and just rest it out.

But over time a perfectly normal biological phenomenon has been distorted with impurity and social quarantine being associated with it so much so that it is talked of in hushed tones and treated as a dirty secret. Furthermore, it has been used to deny women the rights to enter a temple arguing that it would make a place of worship unclean.

Question tradition, don’t blindly follow

These beliefs in the modern world should be rightly questioned; whether they are rational and continue to serve any purpose. It is important that one understands the logic underlying any ‘traditional’ concepts before deciding to follow them. It is crucial that we subject our beliefs to the process of scientific evaluation and fashion a credible answer if questioned. We are responsible for passing on wisdom to our children but isn’t it also equally important we pass on wisdom founded on logic?

Let’s pledge to understand and familiarize ourselves with the underlying reasons for various customs we follow and decide whether we agree they are relevant, practical and logical. Under no circumstances should we allow ourselves to confuse anything nature has designed as being automatically bad, restricting or discriminating. That is a human contribution.

Menstruation is natural and should be treated as such, without restricting women with tradition. Women are blessed with many natural processes that create and sustain life. If we do want to bring back our past, let’s bring back those times when the female form was worshipped as a Goddess.

Image source: shutterstock

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Prerna Wahi worked in the corporate world for 7 years. In the past few years,

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