MENSTRUATION – A very normal and natural process that is intricately linked to a women’s body. Yet, in India, not many people believe it to be normal. In fact, so many have denormalised it so much, that menstruation females are dehumanised and treated worse than animals. There are so many taboos and restrictions around the topic, it is actually sad. Some people, even aware of the process of menstruation still follow these practices due to religious sentiments. It is so bad that women avoid talking about it, discussing it or even going to buy sanitary napkins to use during the cycle. This is one of the main reasons of lack of awareness and also leads to hygiene issues and other problems.
A menstrual taboo is any social taboo concerned with menstruation. In some societies it involves menstruation being perceived as unclean or embarrassing, extending even to the mention of menstruation both in public and in private.
Are menstruation taboos the cause of leading menstrual health problems in India? Here are some taboos that are prevalent in India:
- In most faiths, women are not allowed to have a normal life while menstruating. They are treated as outcasts and considered impure, dirty and/ or cursed.
- A menstruating woman cannot enter the temple or go near a Tulsi plant
- A menstruating woman cannot sleep in the same bed as her husband
- A menstruating woman should not enter the temple as it would anger the gods
- A menstruating woman should not enter the kitchen as the food will rot and she isn’t hygienic.
- A menstruating woman will have to use separate utensils and a separate bed or sleep on a mattress. She can use/touch anything else after she stops bleeding
- A menstruating woman cannot wash her hair for the first 2 days
- You should not touch a menstruating woman.
- Yet menstrual blood is also considered holy by some. It is used in rituals and considered to be highly powerful and potent in ancient times. Even today, the red colour used in ceremonies are supposedly indicative of the ancient ritual of using menstrual blood.