The topic of menstruation (aka period) has always been whispered among ladies, which didn’t bother me until my logical brain began digging deeper into this subject. Why do we feel the need of discussing menstruation in a hushed tone? What is so strange about this natural phenomenon? Why do most of us wait for male customers to be out of our way while ordering sanitary pads? So what if our vagina bleeds five/three days each month? I wonder if there is any answer to these logical questions!
We have been copying our fellow women since ages. I believe my mother copied the manner in which her mother explained about menstruation and her mother must have adopted her own mother’s hesitation regarding this subject. It’s simple math, really! I noticed how my grandmother quickly changed the subject from that of periods whenever she noticed any male family member around. Her need to keep this subject a secret did not raise any question in my head. On the contrary, I picked up the hidden message of keeping the topic of menstruation limited to only ladies. The message was unsaid but clear and had been in the back of my head for a long time. However, things changed when my logical brain started questioning my shame. “Why are you ashamed of a phenomenon which is as normal as day and night?” Gradually, I realized that my hesitation is all in my head. As long as I feel the need of considering my periods some sort of an embarrassment, it would keep holding me back. This realization proved to be a blessing. Some might find it odd, but I began asking my dad to buy me sanitary pads whenever I needed those. Trust me, it proved to be a breath of fresh air. The moment I opened up about my periods, I felt as if a burden was lifted off my shoulders. You see, before that day, I had to ask my mom to ask my dad to buy sanitary pads. Sometimes, she would forget and I would get stuck with another non-hygienic option. Now that I had removed the middleman (I don’t mean that my mom is a middleWoman — it’s appropriate only in this context), there was no longer any confusion.
However, did the problem solve, completely? Definitely, not! I was still dependent on my dad to get me sanitary pads. When I went to college, I was no longer living in my hometown; therefore, I could no longer ask my dad to buy sanitary pads. My mom figured out a solution to this problem. She used to pack plenty of packets of sanitary pads to last a long time in the hostel. After four years of college, I got a job. This was the time when I decided, I could no longer rely on this temporary solution and began shopping for my monthly need. This did not prove an easy task because I had that chip on my shoulders who would force me to look around to see if anyone was watching me buy sanitary pads. Even writing about it is now throwing me in a fit of laughter because of how stupid I had been. Thankfully, I got over this stupidity and now I couldn’t care less if anyone was even pointing their finger at me while I was buying my monthly supply of pads.
When it comes to menstruation, it seems whole society has come up with ways to torment women in one way or the other. There are few very weird customs forced on women while they are menstruating. Some of these I knew right from the day I started menstruating; whereas, rest of them, I got to know through my friends from various regions of India. These restrictions are as taboo as they come. While menstruating,
- You should not enter the kitchen.
- You should not go anywhere near God.
- You should not touch anything related to God.
- You should sleep on the floor.
- You should eat in separate vessels.
- You should remain in an isolated room.
You see the insanity? For a while, I, too, fell victim to one of these restrictions without even knowing it. My mom, although open-minded in most of the topics, followed the rule of not praying while menstruating. Unknowingly, I followed her footsteps, but one day, I questioned my own doing. I wondered why would God want to stay away from me while I am menstruating! This does not even add up. If He is my creator, why would He be repulsed by me when I am having periods? I don’t know about others, but I found it extremely illogical. After having this thought, I began my experiment. I thought if God does not like me praying while menstruating, then every time I would pray during those days, he would punish me in some way. I know it’s silly, but that’s what I thought. For a while, I observed how my day went when I prayed during those difficult days and noticed that there was no punishment. So, this rule was not set by the almighty. Then, why am I following the rules made up by this society who would do anything to keep women locked up behind the walls of infinite prejudices? I have an anecdote on the same subject that I would love to share with my readers.
A few days back, it was Janmashtami, a Hindu festival that is celebrated as Lord Krishna’s Birthday. A female colleague of mine, Kanika (a fake name to respect her privacy), was fasting. She told me that she wished to go to a temple but can’t as she was menstruating. This did not seem right to me and I shared my thoughts on this subject. I told her to go to the temple as I believe, these are man-made rules and have nothing to do with God’s will. Of course, following my advice or rejecting it was her free will. Next day, Kanika happily told me that she went to the temple and it seemed perfectly alright. I was glad that I got through to at least one person.
Menstruation is not a dirty part of our life. This is an inseparable phenomenon which ensures that our body is functioning properly. Why should one be ashamed of being healthy? I am happy to be healthy and I choose to celebrate it. Let’s pledge to celebrate our health and be open about it. I am proud to share that I talk about my periods in front of my dad and husband, and I feel no shame about it. Nobody can make me feel embarrassed about my periods as long as I don’t allow them to. Change the mindset and join the excellent #PeriodPride Naari Campaign.