In our country, attaining puberty is a matter to hush and is wrapped in covers, just like sanitary napkins delivered in opaque packs or newspapers.
Decades before, there were many myths and taboos attached to periods (monthly cycle in fertile girls or women). It was considered impure and there was a long list of BIG NO’s that the girls and the women of the family had to follow in practice.
I was raised in a large family with three generations staying under the same roof, sharing the common kitchen. Each generation had their own set of rules and formulas and the kith and the kin had to follow silently. Raising a voice was next to impossible even in wildest dreams and questioning elders were out of the question.
In my early years of childhood and early teens, I could not understand why the weird rules were followed by my immediate siblings, aunts, mother and other young females of the family.
The weird rules were uniform for all young woman though the dates differ. One thing I could make out that it lasted for 5 days for a single person.
What were the Weird Rules?
Sleep on the Floor or a Cot – Exclusive bedding was allotted and no one else shared the bed with her on her special 5 days in a month.
No Entry in Kitchen Zone – She, the poor soul could not enter the kitchen zone, neither she was allowed to cook or take food for herself.
Don’t Touch Pickles – She was not allowed to touch pickles. It was believed that they will rot if touched.
No Hair wash – On the 5th day, she was allowed to wash her hair. It was believed that she will catch a cold or her flow will be affected.
No Entry in Puja Room or Temples – She was not permitted to perform any religious rites or enter into the area of worship. On the 5th
day, all her clothes, beddings and washable belongings were separately washed and she had to wash her hair to be allowed to roam freely throughout the premises. It was believed that she was clean after the 5th day of periods.
This separation was noticed by all the male fraternity of the house as well as the outsiders. It appeared as if she was an outcast and in exile.
I found these rules weird, unhealthy and humiliating for the people who had attained puberty and thereafter until She was fertile.
I, the rebellious raised voice against such practice. I wasn’t a rebel but on watching these inhumanities against women fraternity, emotions stirred. I could not raise voice to my other two generations in the hierarchy but the immediate hierarchy, My Mom had to face my tantrums.
My periods started later than my siblings and friends of near my age and women of the house were planning to take me to the lady doctor. I was 15 plus and well understood all the things related to periods and ovulation.
I kept a condition to my Mom that I would not see the doctor if these weird practices are not abolished from the house. Further, if my ovulation starts, I won’t disclose to anybody because I find these practices humiliating and
I even added that my periods were delayed just because of watching these tantrums…it was my pace of emotional blackmail to evade emotional
My mom and granny had a discussion under the covers and they disclosed that the day, I am blessed, they will stop these malpractices (It’s
my way of saying to taboos practiced).
God heard my words and I did not have to visit the doctor for the investigations and I was blessed within a quarter of discussion. It declared that I was fertile and healthy.
All the practiced taboos vanished except for two weird rules that still existed. My prayers were heard by them and so I too had to hear and accept two rules, which did not prove to be a hurdle in my life.
Pickles – It did not bother me because I am not fond of pickles, so it hardly
Don’t Enter Puja Zone or Temples – I believed in God and could not strive courage to break the barrier, being God-fearing Still, I don’t enter Puja zone.
The rest weird practices were non-existent and it gave freedom to all women of the family and even my Mom and Aunt were benefitted. All congratulated me for the courage shown and the lives of all women fraternity improved, it was women liberation.
No more exile period and it added glow on their faces and they thanked me profusely for the bold step.
Attaining puberty for a Man and a Woman should be celebrated as a moment of pride. It proves scientifically that they are fit, healthy and fertile.
These days, various platforms have started to create awareness about ovulation and periods.
Now no more, it is considered a subject to be kept under covers or discussed in a hushed tone. It is a natural process and adequate hygiene should be
maintained. Various departments are working towards it and are arranging
sanitary kiosks at public places for the women fraternity.
Still, the practice exists in many regions and families and the women suffer. People need to understand that it a moment of Pride and nothing to be ashamed of.
More and more awareness programs are required to educate the bizarre and rural population and the movie Pad Man proved to be useful to promote period awareness.