Periods. Scientifically, every month, the uterus lining gets thicker to prepare for a fertilized egg if the woman chooses to become pregnant. If the egg doesn’t get fertilized, the lining is released from the body as blood through the vagina. Simple enough! Then, why is it treated as a taboo?
Whenever a person talks about periods or even says the word, they would prefer saying it in a hushed tone. Why? Because talking about periods is not acceptable in our society. There are girls when discussing about periods, who either speak in a low tone or employ a variety of euphemisms for menstruation like “monster days” or “the curse” and things like that. In advertisements too, when sanitary pads are shown, blue liquid is poured rather than red, to demonstrate its absorbance.
From the time a girl first gets her period, she is told to follow some rules. Not to go into temples, not to face the statues or photos of Gods, not to enter the kitchen, not to touch the person who regularly performs rituals at home, forget about that person, do not touch anyone, do not talk about periods with your male classmates or even with your own own father! The things touched by her won’t be touched by anyone else before it gets washed and so on and so forth. Whenever the girl gets on her period, she has to bathe or else she will stay unclean and polluted. A 13-year old girl being told not to touch her own family members just because she hits puberty could translate into her worst nightmare. Hitting puberty should not be something to be felt ashamed of. It’s just a normal biological process.
It’s not only in our Hindu religion where periods are considered to be a taboo, but also in some others too. In Hinduism, women are considered ritually impure and are not allowed to enter kitchens,temples, wear flowers, have sex, touch other males or anyone else. They’re always seen as impure and polluted, isolated as untouchables. The Sabarimala Temple followed the tradition of not allowing menstruating women into the temple. The religions of Hinduism, Islam and Judaism have one thing in common: women in periods are consideredto be POLLUTED. Like, how? And because of all these things, psychologically, it becomes disorienting for women to look out at a world where their reality doesn’t count.
It’s in Sikhism, that periods are not considered as taboo and nor are the women considered to be polluted. They are given equal status with men and are considered to be as pure as them. Gurus say that purity is not obtained merely by just washing your bodies, it’s obtained by a purity of the mind. Menstruation is not considered as a pollutant. It obviously has physical and psychological effects on women, but it’s not considered to be a hindrance to her wanting to pray or accomplish her religious duties to the fullest. Periods are a GOD-GIVEN BIOLOGICAL PROCESS! Whether one’s clothes are blood-stained or not, is not of any spiritual importance. In The Feminine Principle in the Sikh Vision of Transcendency, Nikky Guninder Kaur-Singh writes:
‘The denigration of the female body “expressed in many cultural and religious taboos surrounding menstruation and child-Birth” is absent in the Sikh worldview. … Guru Nanak openly chides those who attribute pollution to women because of menstruation’.
I’m starting to love this religion right now. But hey, why not bring about a change in our own religion for our own children and other generations to come, rather than loving and wanting to be a part of some other religion? Let’s bring about a change in people’s mindsets, of not making a big deal of menstruating women.
Author: Freya Ghedia
Editor: Divya Rosaline