From the terms like “Moon Time”, “Problem of Women”, “Days of Impurity”, “Visit from Aunt Flo”, “code red”, “Blood Marry”, “Lady Business”, “The Red B
From the terms like “Moon Time”, “Problem of Women”, “Days of Impurity”, “Visit from Aunt Flo”, “code red”, “Blood Marry”, “Lady Business”, “The Red Badge of Courage”, “Monthlies”, or “The Curse”, etc. till the ads of sanitary napkins in blue liquid (concealment of blood). The discrimination against girls on their periods, the stigma of menstruation is prevalent worldwide, supported by some cultural taboos. The study by the International Women’s Health Coalition found nearly 5,000 slang words used to discuss “periods” or “menstruation” in 10 different languages. And over 78% of participants across the globe believe in these euphemisms while talking about the periods.
In some countries like Venezuela, women in their periods have to sleep in huts or outside the houses. Further, menstruating women get barred from entering the kitchen and holy places such as Temples. According to various researches, over 20% of school-going girls miss their school during menstruation. Further, According to UNICEF, over 2.3 billion people across the globe lack the required sanitation services. In underdeveloped countries, a mere 27% of the population has access to basic hand wash facilities.
While the globe is facing such cultural problems, including taboos, some countries have started celebrating menstruation. The Popular culture is continuously being transformed through the acts of awareness, including movies, such as an Indian movie called “Pad Man”, campaigns, Menstrual Hygiene Day celebrated on May 28, education, and so on. Some Asian Countries are not only celebrating menstruation, but they are also meeting the hygiene needs of girls. Gradually people are dispelling the myths about period revolving across the world. Following are the countries and their methods of celebrating menstruation:
Menstruation gets celebrated:
When it comes to celebrating the first period, Sri Lanka is an Asian country that has many ethnic groups with different rituals. Menstruation gets celebrated as a girl’s capability for marriage and childbirth. According to Blogue Des Volontaires, the celebration of menses in Sri Lanka involve three steps: Separation, Transition, and Reintegration. To celebrate her first period, her female family members and close female relatives bathe her and feed her with rich food. They keep the girl in isolation. They bath her again and dress her in a sari (symbolizes that she is stepping into womanhood). And lastly, there is a celebration where relatives and friends are invited. All the guests greet her with some presents and blessings. This celebration (resembling small weddings) symbolizes the transition of a girl into a woman.
But the process itself is discriminatory from the first step when the girl is separated immediately after her first menstruation. The girl is excluded from her social life as she is considered impure at a time. She is supposed to reside in a hut outside the house where the entry of men is prohibited. In the second step, she is bathed by a washerwoman to remove the evil toxins. When the girl finally gets reintegrated back into society, the family calls a priest to bless her for a bright and prosperous future.
Menstruation gets celebrated in other Asian countries as well. Some parts of India, including south India and North-East India, there prevails rituals of celebrating the menstruation. In Assam, girls’ first period gets celebrated like that of a small wedding. Tuloni Biya like, a small wedding is a celebration that happens on the eleventh day after a girl’s first period. In this celebration to welcome her maturity and fertility, all the friends, relatives, and neighbors are invited to take part. The menstruating girl needs to follow the strict diet of boiled vegetables, sprouts, and other healthy food items.
The girl is excluded from society and confined to her bedroom for the first 4-7 days. The entry of men remains prohibited in her bedroom. And the girl is treated like a touch-me-not plant because nobody can touch her in those days. The tradition similar to Indian weddings, Maa Halodhi is performed after a ceremonial bath on the fourth day. In this ritual, women of the family/relative/neighborhood apply turmeric on her skin. The girl has bathed again on the seventh day and gets dressed in traditional wear called mekhela-sador. The girl then comes out to enjoy the auspicious fest where all the relatives and guests congratulated the girl with presents.
When a girl reaches puberty, people organize several cultural and religious ceremonies to celebrate her womanhood and fertility. Do these celebrations combat patriarchy? Or do they break the taboos of periods in the society? Does it remove the stigma attached to a menstruating girl? Why menstruation gets celebrated?
This idea itself remains anti-feminism and unchallenged. The girl is separated from society due to her impurity during the period. She gets barred from participating in any ritual and religious rites during her period. The girl should not enter the temples during her period. But at the same time, the ceremony is organized to announce the fertility of a girl. The patriarchal society necessitates fertility to get married. But simultaneously, the fertility period is impure and necessary too. It discloses the sexuality of a girl and hence symbolizes the marriageable age of a girl. The concept of marriage completely follows her fertility and maturity. There is no celebration for a sterile woman, and it leverages the symbols of discrimination.
Menstrual hygiene gets hugely compromised despite these celebrations of the menses. The education and the social life of a girl get impacted by the taboos prevailing in the society. Despite the awareness, there are rituals where people consider the blood and the menstruating girls impure, dirty, and harmful.