Even goddess in temple bleeds like all women. It's a blessing, not filth

The hypocrisy is complete as the lines outside this famous shrine in Assam are long.

 |  4-minute read |   17-12-2015
  • ---
    Total Shares

When the head priest at Sabarimala declaimed that he would install a machine to check if a woman was fit to enter the temple or not, I was shaken up by his ludicrous statement. Of course, you know that a woman who is "fit to enter the temple" means she is not menstruating at the time. If she is, she must sit outside. The biological cycle, placed in her body by the very creator has deigned her impure. By the way, it is the same biological cycle which allowed the priest to be born and probably his siblings too. I don't really know if he has any and don't care too.

Also read: Menstrual blood is more than a stain. Now it's art, verse and protest

But, it would be interesting to sit down with the man who wants to install a period testing-machine and discuss with him the family trees of the entire pantheon of gods in our country and specially all the highly-elevated women who bore them for nine months before giving them human form in all their various avatars.

Dominating

Each one of them menstruated. And believe me, if any priest back then had dared to even look at even one of them derisively, he would have been reduced to a small pile of ash, or maybe a tiny stone. You know what I mean? If the lady chose to chill and rest those days, it was fine and if she did not, that was fine too. It was her business, her body and her mood. Then, guess who stepped in? Man.

Somehow, the need to be stronger and dominating crept upon men. They were suddenly unable to handle the fact that the women were equal, if not stronger than them. And I can well imagine a hasty conference where they deliberated on the ways they could arm-twist the ladies.

Also read: Ameesha Patel has embarrassed women with her views

One of the many diktats they laid upon women was that, when they menstruate, they are impure and may not participate in anything pious, religious and celebratory. Hell, they could not eat in the main kitchen; they could not even enter it. The same kitchen in which they slaved endlessly churning out meal after meal for their families. They could not sleep in the same bed they slept in all the other days of the month. They could certainly not go to the temple, they could not sit for any puja, or touch a newborn. They could not pickle mangoes or lime, or anything else, they could not make papads, they could not set curd and the list is endless.

Sounds like a neat idea to me when I think of the amount of work women do in their homes, cooking, feeding, cleaning and generally looking after the entire family - most often extended family too. A week off in the middle can be a treat. But, it is not. It is something ugly and probably uglier than before.

Untouchable

It's treated like a scourge and women become untouchable, dirty, not to forget impure. Much like they become outcastes when widowed or when they can't bear children. So, children maketh a woman complete and menstruation, the very reason why they can have children, is something that makes them dirty. Unbelievable!

The hypocrisy is complete as the lines outside this famous temple in Assam are long, especially when the goddess enshrined there is believed to be menstruating.

Also read: Our stained culture of menstruation shame needs to be wiped clean

Devotees line up with bales of white cotton fabric to collect her menstrual blood which is considered to be a divine blessing. For the uninitiated, it is this temple where Goddess Parvati's genitals fell after a marital spat with Lord Shiva. The event decimated her body into pieces that scattered all over to become places of worship.

It is important that education be spread about this highly necessary and important event in a girl's life. The sort of education that will lead to awareness about health and hygiene and certainly about the fact that a menstruating woman is not to be shirked away from.

Teaching

I am aware of at least two schools which are teaching their children how to produce sanitary napkins from waste material and go to villages and work with the woman and children there. Global Genesis School in Greater Noida and Scindia Kanya Vidyalaya, Gwalior, have taken this pertinent issue up in a big way where boys and girls participate in equal measure. But, a lot more needs to be done. Let us begin.

I wonder why it has taken this long for women to say, "Hey, I am a woman and it's normal to bleed."

Also read: What if men had menstrual cycles?

Writer

Archana Dalmia Archana Dalmia @archanadalmia

The writer is a columnist for Mail Today.

Like DailyO Facebook page to know what's trending.