“I did not help Ma with dinner that day. I did not serve Papa the food. I could not even bid good night to Krishna Ji. I was barred from going to various places and scolded for every little thing I did. All of a sudden, Ma started treating me differently. Dadi did not call me for the bedtime story. Everyone treated me like I’d sinned, as though I had made a grave mistake. It was the day I got my period for the first time. Ma explained to me that I would bleed every month and that this happened to every female.”
“She said it was a sign that I was growing. Ma told me not to enter the kitchen, not to go near the Puja ghar, and not talk about this in front of anyone, especially Papa and Dada. She even gave me a disposable dish to eat my meals on. My 14-year-old self was baffled by all this oddity. If this were a sign that I was growing, then shouldn’t everyone be happy? Shouldn’t I tell Papa that his little daughter was growing? My heart ached more than my abdomen. Why was my freedom suddenly curbed? Why were my whereabouts questioned on the days I was menstruating? Why did Ma succumb to such restrictions too? Why didn’t she protest?”
All females in India face similar situations. Periods, menstruation, and sanitary napkins have always been a hush-hush affair in our country. Menstruating women are considered impure and are barred from various activities. The recent denial of women entering the Sabarimala temple in Kerala has brought this topic into the limelight. Many temples in India bar women from visiting the Gods while they are menstruating but the Sabarimala temple restricts entry to all women in their reproductive age, i.e., between the age of 10-50.
The temple website states that Lord Ayyappa was a Nitya Brahmachari, a celibate god and hence women in their reproductive age are not allowed to enter the temple. They are considered impure. Gopalakrishnan, the temple chief said that women will be permitted into the temple only after a machine is invented to detect menstruating women. A statement like this has stirred the women of our nation.
‘Happy To Bleed’, a campaign supporting feminism and protesting such taboos has been launched on Facebook. Women all over the country are fighting for their right to be treated with respect.
The temple of Kamakhya Devi, in the West of Guwahati, Assam worships the menstruating goddess but doesn’t permit women on their periods to enter the temple. What an irony!
Bleeding women are permitted into the church and Gurudwara, then why are they not allowed into the temple? It is ironic how females are considered as Devis on the day of Ashtami and suddenly become impure when they are menstruating. Durga, Laxmi, Saraswati, and Parvati are worshipped, but females are barred entry into those temples.
What kind of justice is this? Is God truly pleased with this unequal conduct? We live in a society that openly telecasts sanitary napkin advertisements but sells them wrapped in newspapers or black-colored opaque poly bags. A society which talks about the right ‘ma ki haath ka achaar’ but doesn’t allow them to touch pickles when they are ‘down’. A society that doesn’t celebrate fertility instead restricts it.
Male dominating culture has changed the way people think about women’s menstruation. It is looked down upon as something heinous, something bad, although it is through bleeding women that we are all born. We question menstrual bleeding today; did we question it when we were in our mothers’ wombs?
We show our worth and fight to prevent such taboos and create a society where the word ‘menstruation’ is not whispered but talked about aloud. After all, we women are the Angry Indian Goddesses..!