A young woman from rural India asks a pertinent question - Isn't the goddess they worship a girl? Won't she get periods too? If she does, will they send her out of the temple?
A young woman from rural India asks a pertinent question – Isn’t the goddess they worship a girl? Won’t she get periods too? If she does, will they send her out of the temple?
Growing in a typical, old-fashioned Indian family from a rural part of South India, my mother had never spoken about what periods are, or how they will occur, or what is the impact of periods on my body, until the day I got my first period.
Since I knew nothing about periods, I didn’t even know what was happening to me, until my mother realised that I had got my first period. What my mom said following this will forever leave a scar.
She said “Oh god! I was the first one who saw you get your first period! It’s a bad omen for me, as a mother should never witness her daughter’s first period!”
There are all sorts of myths about periods and other things in the area I grew up in, but I was devastated on hearing my mom say this. We girls had never asked for periods and it’s not our fault if we get them.
Even now my mom blames me if I get my periods on a function day or the day we are supposed to go to a temple!
Why do people have to blame girls for getting her periods? Why are women not allowed inside a temple on period days? Who created these myths? Isn’t the goddess they worship a girl? Won’t she get periods too? If she does, will they send her out of the temple?
Why is a girl not allowed inside her own home when she is on periods? Why is a girl not allowed to touch things when on periods? Why she is not allowed to sleep on the bed?
These things are still happening in many parts of India.
Periods are a common, natural thing. It’s not a ‘sin’. Just because we have our periods doesn’t mean we have to be treated differently on those days. I wish these sort of things will change for the women and girls living in rural India so that they can relax during those days, because after all, periods are painful.
Image source: a still from the documentary film Period. End of a Sentence.
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This strange love story reminds me of Princess Diana when she gave an interview about Prince Charles - "There were three of us in this marriage!”
This love was flawed and broken the way only we humans know how to break things with our ego, pride, insecurity and complexities!
Where do I even begin to tell the story of how deep a love can be, how it transcends time, place and people. Perhaps this is a story about how women are their own worst enemies. Either way it is a story that tells us how frail, fragile and fraught we are as humans and how much we hurt each other.
This love story began when I was two years old. Growing up in India in a culture that wove love stories like Laila Majnu, Heer Ranjha and the epic symbol of love, the Taj Mahal, into the very fabric of our existence, love was always an integral part of our lives.
One such love story was of a boy and a girl who were neighbours. The boy, an athlete, artist and a poet, found his muse in this shy, thoughtful and in her own way poetic girl, who seemed to worship the very ground he walked on. Her face could be found in all the paintings he created, and her name in every poem he wrote. The girl called him Sagar, which means ocean, symbolizing his all-encompassing love for her.
Everything thing was going well; their wedding date was being finalized, till the boy’s older brother who was a doctor in the same little town, got accepted into Stanford Medical School to do his MS.
Earlier my husband would say, 'Arey! What is there in making dal-roti? It's so simple.' After he had to cook everyday when I was ill, he has stopped saying that to me!
“Arey! What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?” A handful of dal (lentils) and two rotis! This is the story of every woman and no one seems to understand.
Some time ago, after a shopping spree, my husband and I entered the house, exhausted. I had just about kept all the bags aside, when my husband said, “I am very hungry, can you make something.”
I looked at my husband in amazement and thought, ‘He had just had food, how did he get hungry again so soon?’
My husband, as if he had read my face, said, “Arey! You know that my stomach is not filled with outside food. Just make dal roti. What is there to do in making dal roti? Put a handful of lentils in the cooker and let it whistle and make two rotis. After all, how long will it take?”
‘Is this the way dal (lentils) and roti are made?’ The thought came to my mind. ‘After all, I also went along and now I am tired too.’ I was also getting angry at myself that after all, I had spoiled the habit of everyone in the house.
Why talk about 'periods' in a hushed voice? Let's kill all menstruation taboos!
Why talk about ‘periods’ in a hushed voice? Let’s kill all menstruation taboos!
Menstruation is a natural process just like birth, aging, and death. It is simply a mechanism by which the body of most female mammals functions. It is a reflection of reproductive health. It is absolutely not a rare phenomenon.
Nearly two billion women undergo menstruation every once a month. Why then is periods such a ‘talk behind closed doors’ topic even today?
Even though we’ve made much progress when it comes to topics like ‘menstruation’, many societies see women who have periods as impure and regard them as ailing. There is a certain shame factor still associated with periods in many sections of our society.
I had no awareness about menstruation, except for a warning about reporting 'blood on panties'. When it happened, I soon equated periods with pain.
I had no awareness about menstruation, except for a warning about reporting ‘blood on panties’. When it happened, I soon equated periods with pain.
My mother had told my elder sister and me, “If you see blood in your panties or while you pee, let me know”. I did not understand and asked her why. She said, the neighbors’ daughter found blood and felt sick. I thought, it is some new viral fever that is spreading. 2-3 months went by but neither of us reported any such incident. I had almost forgotten about it.
I was in 6th standard, barely 12 years old. Our school had organized a field trip that day. I got up early and noticed blood. I remember, I was scared. Immediately, I shouted and reported to my mother. She inspected and told me I cannot go to school today. I was confused. I was fine so “why can’t I go?” I argued in vain.
She gave me a cloth and asked me to use it. I had no idea what was happening. I remember crying wanting to go to school. My mom quietened me and then explained to me. I was shocked. At our place, the old age tradition of not letting the girl do anything during first 3 days of period was followed. I had seen my dad cooking during those 3 days. My mom could not enter kitchen or bedroom (since our temple was in the room). There are many more restrictions. Now, I had to follow all these.