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The transition of a Girl to a Woman. Of course, I am talking about the first periods of a girl’s life. Though Menstrual Hygiene Day is observed every year on 28th May, the discussion on this very important topic should go on. Always that hush hush attitude about this topic won’t help the girl child as well as society. The first periods can be scary for some and interesting for others. But if we never speak about it, then it will always remain sealed inside a box.
The first period in a girl’s life should always be a cause of celebration and not depression. Women bleed so that they can give birth; they can expand the generation. All across the world, many countries like Japan, South Africa, Italy celebrate the first periods of their girls with great joy. India is also ahead in celebration of the first periods of a girl.
Specifically speaking about India, a nation with diversified customs and cultures, different states have different customs and traditions for celebrating the first periods of a girl. Many families throw a period party marking this amazing occasion. In South India, states such as Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, in the North East Assam, and a few other states celebrate the occasion with great pomp followed by many rituals. There are few stigmas associated with it as well.
The celebrations are basically done to embrace her transition from a girl to a mature woman. But if we closely look into the rituals followed, many regressive customs which were followed during the ancient times are still followed today, not only in rural parts of India but also in urban India.
Most of the customs followed in parts of India focus on discriminating and considering the girl to be impure. However, a scientific analysis would highlight the basic flaws. Menstruation is caused due to ovulation followed by a missed chance of pregnancy that results in bleeding from the endometrial vessels and is followed by preparation of the next cycle. Therefore, there seems no reason for considering menstruating women as “impure.”
Some of the customs that a girl child having her first periods may be subjected to are – keeping her in isolation for few days, not allowing her to see men, not allowing her to touch anything except her own mattress and pillow, not allowing her to enter the kitchen, not allowing her to touch another person’s plate of food, not allowing her to bathe for few days, not allowing her to touch pickles, sometimes even not allowing the girl child to wear a pad for first few days of her first periods and most importantly not allowing her to enter the PUJA GHAR (temple).
Few of the above customs are still followed in many urban places as well. A time when a girl should feel rather special, she feels isolated and impure. She starts blaming herself when it should be the contrary. These customs affect a girl child mentally and also affects her health.
Few customs, which include not wearing a sanitary pad and allowing the girl to bleed openly in an isolated room, are still followed in states such as Assam, and just imagine the problems they might be facing. Almost no thought is given to hygiene before practicing such customs.
Based on these taboos, women are often excluded from different aspects of social and cultural life.
Many rituals were originally intended to give women time. They were also meant to give their bodies some much-needed rest. However, many of the rituals also need to change, and hope that those come soon. A woman must BLEED WITH PRIDE and shouldn’t feel ashamed regarding her periods. Attempts should be made to challenge the stigmas, the taboos surrounding periods.
While on the one hand, we visit Kamakhya Temple to worship Maa Kamakhya (goddess of menstruation); on the other hand, we treat menstruation as impure. What an irony!
It’s very important to explain to people that Menstruation is nothing but a simple biological function. There is nothing impure about it. It should not have any form of discrimination attached to it. Everyone should celebrate this particular day in a girl’s life.