By Preeti Sharma : While exploring the religious site on internet today I read about some of the religious and social beliefs about menstruation. The beliefs I got to know left me with no words, here I would like to share some of them which may seem strange and weird to you as well. These beliefs are prevailed since one of very ancient religions i.e.,,,
Judaism: It is one of the very ancient, monotheistic, Abrahamic religion with the Torah as its foundational text, In Judaism the law says that the menstruating woman and the one who touches her during her menses are ritually unclean. And the law also doesn’t allow her to visit places and even it restricts her male companion to have sexual intercourse with her.
Christianity: In this religion menstrual taboo has been a major reason to keep women from positions of authority in christianity. They are not allowed to touch Bible or any of the holy items as they are unclean.
In Islam it is said that “It is an impurity so keep away from the women during this and do not approach them until they are cleansed, when they are cleansed you can approach them as God has Ordained…” during periods she is not allowed to touch the Quran or enter Mosque, offer ritual prayers or have sex with her husband for seven full days.
I can’t wait to talk about the religion which is contradict to all above religions, yes I want to talk about Sikhism.
In Sikhism Guru Nanak has condemned the practice of treating women as impure while menstruating, women are allowed to visit Gurudwaras and offer prayers. There is no restrictions to movement in the house or outside. Guru Granth Saheb totally rejects sexism. It affirms women’s creative and natural processes in the social fabric.
While reading all this I went through an eye catching statement “It is believed that anything excreted from the human body i.e.,, blood, tears or sweat are toxic, hence anyone touching the menstruating women is considered as “Tamasic” according to Hindu Mythology”
Yes, you got it right here I am talking about ‘the Guru of all the religions’ i.e., Hinduism. In this religion a woman during her menses is considered affected by “Rajaswala Dosha”. According to Hinduism a menstruating woman should not be allowed to enter kitchen and temples, sleep in the day-time, wear or touch flowers, touch other people, talk loudly, touch house hold things and have sex. Even she is allowed to touch or let her shadow fall over green plants as it is believed that her tamasic effect can kill green plants.
Today also in many parts of our country these beliefs are believed and followed blindly. To come out of the dilemma caused by these rituals and beliefs let’s talk about ‘ What is menstruation?’ and what makes it so unclean and impure.
“Menstruation is a stage where a female suffers regular discharge of blood and menses from the inner walls of Uterus. It generally stars at an early age of 12 to 15 years and usually lasts till the age of 45 to 55 years which is termed as menopause. This bleeding lasts around 2 to 7 days. This period of menstruation is also know as painful periods as many of females face some signs and symptoms prior menstruation. Symptoms like acne, water retention, painful cramps, breasts tenderness, bloating, mood swings, irritability and tiredness. Menstrual cycle is the effect of rise and fall in hormones. Some women may also experience emotional disturbances along with problems of concentration and week memory. During periods working capacity of women gets reduced by around 50 %, she is not capable to perform daily chores as she does regularly. This is the time when her body needs rest and she needs love and affection. Having sexual intercourse during this period may cause many infections to female, probably this could be the reason to restrict couple from performing sexual activities during menses. The flow of blood may vary and it controlled with the help of menstrual products such as sanitary napkins, tampons, blanket, towel, menstrual cups and reusable cloth pads. in ancient time people were not so innovative and updated and these products to absorb flowing blood were not available. Unavailability of these products and in order to maintain the cleanliness at public places women were advised not to visit public places such as temples and church and other houses, and she was not to allowed to work so that she can have complete rest during her painful periods.
With the passage of time the makers of our society and religion connected it completely to rituals and god.
But I am happy to see that time is changing young girls have become aware and and they are trying to change their surroundings also, they are spreading education, they are talking about menstruation with young as well as old ones. They are working to bring change and update society. But still some percentage of young girls don’t want to talk about this topic because some of them don’t want to offend society and want to go with the flow and around 4-5 % of girls accept the fact that they are impure during their menstruation and feel guilty while praying.
Ours is an incredible country where on one hand we blame people for abusing and mistreating girls and on the other hand we ourselves on the name of rituals making them believe that they are stigma on our society just because they bleed. Despite being a part of 21st century I can see a girl feeling hesitated in asking for a sanitary pad at the medical or general store. I feel bad when I see change in male’s expression when they find a female asking for sanitary products at some shop. In many regions today also when girl gets her first period it is celebrated on a large scale with many relatives, a girl is gifted many precious things and just after celebrations she becomes untouchable as per our traditional beliefs. The one who menstruates has got the capability of giving birth, it is a symbol of motherhood and womanhood. If it is such a big blessing why we don’t talk to our young ones about this, why don’t we educate them. …..? A young girl getting menstruation for the first time is either afraid, nervous or unconscious, she is not even comfortable in talking to her mother, grandmother or sister about what it is, how she is feeling and what is the solution for this…..
When I look around I wonder how we are surviving in this two faced society who feels shame in talking about menstruation to their young ones but misses no opportunity to humiliate females by declaring them untouchables and cutting them off from every where.
I have a question….. Why shouldn’t we teach our young generation about menstruation……????? And how shall we introduce Menstruation to them……
A religious taboo or an hormonal and physical change in the body…….!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!