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Is She A Goddess Or Simply Undergoing A Natural Process-Different Ways In Which Menstruation Is Interpreted!

A free verse on how menstruation is interpreted in different ways and through various customs by our society!

From treating menstruation as impure to customs turning women into a deity, here is how menstruation is interpreted in different ways!

Shhh…don’t tell anyone

We sat thigh-to-thigh in the auditorium, as an unknown woman

held up “a pad” in her hand. My friend giggled next to me, 

and my ear told me, “Don’t tell her that you already got your period.”

Like a game of telephone or Chinese Whispers, we often lose,

lose the truth in translation.

Treated like a goddess

The nine-year-old, they said, had matured early by eating chicken

or milk of cows injected with hormones.  They celebrated 

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her coming into her purpose of this birth, by gifting her 

a new green paavaadai* with a golden zari and matching bangles. 

Her uncles built her a straw hut and threw everyone a feast 

(by borrowing the money).

For three days, the girl was centre-stage 

and treated as a Devi. On the fourth day, they bathed her in holy water

to wash away her dosha* and to make her pure again. 

Is she impure or is she a goddess? What is the message?

Who lost it in translation?


Who translated the miracle that is fertility as untouchability?

The lady fought for purity but it slipped up on the 

wrong side of the tracks. She was able to touch

everything, so she did everything, on every day of the month.

She climbed mountains with cramps in her sides, trying to

prove she could do it all. 

I say, give me a period leave. I would like that.

Even fertile earth needs time to rest and rejuvenate before the next season.

I say, give me my privacy. I would like that.

I have no interest in flaunting my mood swings, I would love to slip into a cocoon.

I say, offer me your help. I have no interest in doing it all. 

No need to prove I am worthy. But, first, give me a choice. 

Who translated the miracle that is fertility as untouchability?

It is all natural

It is Janmasthami, and my father bathes and recites the mantras.

The sweets and the savoury have been laid out side by side.

I stand a little away. I don’t mind. I just want to eat it all up after their puja.

I am neither ritualistic nor religious, have better things to stand up for.

But he holds out the puja thali, camphor lighting up the air,

Offers me the essence of the blessings and tells me, 

“It is all natural,” I smile.

*paavaadai – A Langa voni (also pavadai daavani or Langa davani) is a traditional dress worn mainly in South India by young girls between puberty and marriage.

*dosha- originating from Sanskrit, which can be translated as “that which can cause problems” (literally meaning “fault” or “defect”)

Image source: Still from Padman 


About the Author

Namratha Varadharajan

Namratha is a poet and curator of Soul Craft Poetry workshops. She is a feminist in theory, a mommy disguised as a writer, or maybe the other way around. read more...

3 Posts | 2,974 Views

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