Taboos that make blood boil BIZARRE MENSTRUATION BE­LIEFS ACROSS MYTHS/TABOOS THE WORLD IN IN­DIA

Mid Day - - Breaking It Down - TEXT/PRIYANKA DHARWADKAR; IN­PUT/RUPSA CHAKRABORTY; GRAPHIC/RAVI JADHAV TINA KURIAN, SU­NITA MISHRA, DR GANESH SHINDE,

The scenes at Sabari­mala tem­ple, since it opened its doors early last month for prayers and ri­tu­als, have been ag­o­nis­ing and out­ra­geous. The holy Hindu site has been be­sieged by protests and vi­o­lence, as women devo­tees at­tempt to ex­er­cise a ba­sic right — that of equal­ity — after the Supreme Court lifted the 90s ban that had dis­al­lowed them from the en­ter­ing the premises. Right-wing and re­li­gious or­gan­i­sa­tions have, so far, re­fused to al­low the po­lice to im­ple­ment the court or­der, cit­ing tra­di­tion and leg­ends that, they say, need to be up­held to keep men­stru­at­ing women away from the tem­ple.

MY BODY, MY RULES! jour­nal­ist

‘When I was a lit­tle girl (ac­cord­ing to the el­ders, a “big girl” be­cause I’d had my pe­riod), friends and their moth­ers told me I could no longer take holy com­mu­nion while men­stru­at­ing, and I ac­cepted that with­out ques­tion. How­ever, as I grew up, I re­alised God was more con­cerned about the pu­rity of my mind, heart and soul than that of my body. Menstruation shouldn’t be grounds to deny a woman any­thing, be it the right to pray, play or work’

teacher

‘Our in­abil­ity to pre­dict or con­trol the fu­ture, or help­less­ness to­wards events un­fold­ing, made us come up with the con­cept of ‘God’. Grad­u­ally, it meta­mor­phosed into re­li­gion. Hav­ing faith is a good thing, but that needn’t have any­thing to do with re­li­gion. In to­day’s times, ev­ery­one must be given the choice to do/not do what they be­lieve in; re­li­gious prac­tices were laid down by peo­ple like you and me; they needn’t be treated as writ­ten in stone’ If mar­ried, not al­lowed to sleep in the same bed as her hus­band

Can’t en­ter the kitchen or food will spoil Shouldn’t wash/cut hair the first two days Con­sid­ered dirty, im­pure Girls in the age group of 15 to 24 in In­dia not us­ing a hy­gienic method of men­strual pro­tec­tion

gy­nae­col­o­gist, Cooper Hos­pi­tal

‘Cer­tain re­stric­tions need to be done away now. Ear­lier, there were no san­i­tary pads; hence, men­stru­at­ing women were asked to stay in a sep­a­rate room. It had a ra­tio­nale then but is con­ser­va­tive now. Its con­tin­ued prac­tice only ends up strength­en­ing the myth that a men­stru­at­ing woman is im­pure. When it comes to avoid­ing cer­tain foods, how­ever, there is science be­hind it. But the rea­son is hor­monal im­bal­ance some items cause, not re­li­gion’ Men­stru­at­ing women in In­dia hav­ing ac­cess to/us­ing san­i­tary pads

You’ll get cramps if you drink cold bev­er­ages dur­ing your pe­riod. Hav­ing sex when on your pe­riod will kill your part­ner.You’re not sup­posed to go camp­ing, lest the bears smell it from far away! If you’re a vir­gin, don’t use tam­pons to stay pure! You can perm your hair only after your first pe­riod. Once a girl/ woman starts men­stru­at­ing, she is slapped across the face, so that she will have “beau­ti­ful red cheeks” for the rest of her life.Don’t touch flow­ers while men­stru­at­ing; if you do, they’ll die quicker.Who doesn’t want clear skin! And ap­par­ently, you’ll get it if you wash your face with the first men­strual blood. You must wash your blood-soaked pad be­fore throw­ing it away, or ghosts will come and haunt you!

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