A great number of articles on women seeking gender rights, or a feminist trying to clear the clouds of hypocritical blurs, revolve around the web almost every day. From dawn to dusk, you will definitely stumble across a piece of news or even a placard in social media, of a female seeking her rights, complaining against the odds of the chauvinist society she lives in, and more. There are a number of stories that narrate the skeptical mindsets of the society overlooking a girl as an object of malediction- be it her clothes, her way of interacting with people, her thoughts and ideas, or her personal affair.
“Menstruation,” snared in a paradoxical affair of curiosity, ignorance, exaggerated abhorrence, and stereotypical beliefs is one of those popularly romanticizing words of all centuries. Remember how our mothers would abstain us from going out or indulge in outdoor activities during those days?
However, a recent news about a woman named Kiran Gandhi jaw dropped everyone when she completed 26.2 miles running for London Marathon during her periods, bleeding freely with blood-soaked thighs without a tampon. She did it as a means to raise awareness for those women, who lack basic reach to feminine care products.
But menstruation is still a taboo in India
The Ambubasi Mela, which is being celebrated in the advent of monsoon, is a celebration of “Menstruation of Mother Earth”. During this period, the female cycle is being celebrated and worshiped. But in other days, it lies in the dark tunnels of societal norms, frightened and dejected.
In many regions of the country, a menstruating woman is treated like an “outcast.” Once on my visit to granny’s place, I had noticed my aunt staying aloof from the rest of the family members. On being asked, she claimed of having her periods and that for about five days she shall have to wake up before dawn, sweep the house, wash all the clothes she had touched, abstain herself from religious stuff, from the kitchen, even out of homes, eat on separate utensils and sleep on the floor.
Oh! Haven’t you noticed how the shopkeepers wrap the sanitary pad packet with 2-3 layers of newspaper and handing it on a black-colored polyethylene bag, despite the fact that the pad making companies manufacture with sealed packages (of course not broken or singled out)?
What’s so fancy about period blood?
We live in a society where social media can accept Kim Kardashian's nude pictures but not the menstruation blood. An earlier hype made by a temple official’s sexist comment “Women would be allowed access to temples only if the machine that can detect her purity would be invented” outraged a section of the society to protest against his sickening statement with #HappyToBleed campaign.
In another instance, an Instagram picture of a woman with stains of period blood on her pant portrayed the gross mindset of people, when the website censored and removed her post twice, claiming a violation of their policy guidelines.
It is said that during Ambubasi, Mother Earth is extremely powerful and is in a process of regenerating and purifying her body. She is being bathed, dressed with new clothes and served with whole devotion. The Prasad (blood-soaked pieces of clothes) distributed on the fourth day is considered as sacred and is being kept in temples or other worshiped areas of the house.
Unveiling the secret
During those times, a female is often seen prohibited from doing physical activities or moving out of the house. Know why? Let me break the ice.
In olden days, it was believed that doing physical activities such as cycling, playing, or engaging in outdoor activities may break their hymen, the “purity claiming license” of a female; which would eventually pull them to the dock. Typically, concealed under layers of vague beliefs, the underlying truth is that exercising or involving in physical activities like hitting the gym, engaging in yoga and meditation ( except for the inverted postures), is actually beneficial in boosting mood, killing extra fatigue, and lessening the symptoms of period cramps.
A woman is never impure when she bleeds. It is a natural process that rejuvenates a female’s womb, making way for a divine life. Instead of nurturing the misogynist beliefs, pamper her during those days. And ladies, when you have won the race against those 100 million sperms and dared to break the amniotic sac to find your place on this earth, why do you hesitate to break the face of stereotypical beliefs if it hinders your way?
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