Yesterday while having lunch I had an urge to have a pickle. As I was about to get hold of the pickle bottle, I heard my mom screaming at me for touching the pickle bottle as I was on my periods. I was taken aback by her sudden reaction. I asked her, ‘what has period got to do with me touching the pickle bottle?’ She replied irritated that the pickle would be spoilt if touched it when I am bleeding.
I felt like laughing at the response. But you know how moms are. I just had my lunch keeping mum and went to meet my friends. I narrated the whole episode to them. Then I realized that every girl, whether educated or not has to go through this at least once (or maybe every month as long as she bleeds) in her lifetime. However, this is not just one incident.
I will share some of the funniest yet serious period-related superstitions one by one.
- Worshipping the Almighty: This is one of the most prevalent and well-known notion. Women are banned from entering shrines or temples when in period, the reason being they are impure. It is believed that even if the impure person’s shadow falls on the deity, it will make it impure, let alone the touch. Even though it sounds pathetic and eccentric, it is followed almost everywhere. Think ladies, how can the almighty the creator of the universe become impure by the touch of a woman who is bleeding (naturally)? Give it a thought.
- Head bath: A message was being circulated recently on Whatsapp especially among girls. It read that girls should not take a head bath when in periods as it affects their blood flow. It further read that girls who take head bath during these four days may also get a stroke or hemorrhage. I went to my gynecologist to get her opinion on this. She rubbished out all this. She was of the opinion that you should take a bath as it relieves you from the pain. She suggested me to always consult a doctor when in doubt rather than following everything that is posted on social media blindly.
- Isolation: This is mostly observed in the rural parts of the country. Ladies are not allowed to sleep on their regular bedding. Instead, they are forced to sleep on the floor. They are not allowed to enter the kitchen or touch anything in the house. In some parts, it is followed so strictly that women are not even allowed to touch their kids. Sounds ridiculous right?
- Exercise: One of my friends, with whom I go to the gym, did not turn up for 4 to 5 days. I asked why she skipped her exercise. She said because she was on her periods. She went ahead and advised me as well to not exercise during these days. I started laughing at her stupid analysis. We visited a gynecologist to clarify our doubts. She was bewildered to hear that educated, well-informed girls like us carried such belief. She advised, rather ordered, us to exercise regularly (even during these days) as it eases out period pain and cramps. Try to not do headstand was her only suggestion.
- Shhh!! Don’t utter that word: Girls are always shushed by their mothers, grandmas, etc. when they are openly discussing periods with their dad’s, brothers or any other male counterpart. We are advised to carry our pads in pouches to hide them. Common now ladies, don’t give me that I-don’t-know-what-you-are-talking-about We all have done this at some point in our life.
Doesn’t all this sound bizarre to you ladies? What to do then to decrease the gravity of this? First of all a request to all the mother’s out there, raise a brave and healthy girl child. Rather than making her feel ashamed of being a girl, teach her to embrace all the shortcomings in her body. Teach her to respect other women as well. Secondly, a request to all beautiful women, do thorough research before following anything blindly. In addition, educated women (with this I mean those who can read and write, not just the degree holders) should try to enlighten all the women, who are less fortunate, on topics such as periods. This is the only way we can clear the fog of doubt circulating this taboo.