Bleed Free…

I started my menstruation at an early age and overnight it seemed my peers and neighbors treated me as indifferent. The neighborhood aunties and grannies were keen to impose restrictions on me to move, jump, play and talk freely, I almost felt like I am being choked by these newly imposed restrictions. As a child who enjoys freedom , it was a bondage difficult to bear. These elderly women folk would visit and instigate my family members to keep me aloof for 7 days and stay, sleep and eat separately. For a child who is facing the trauma of a newly discovered physical change, it is important that her mother is beside her to calm her down. Thankfully, I hail from a liberal minded family and my mother supported me paying no heed to such superimposed restrictions. I was lucky to have survived the pangs of the society but many of us are not . Even today, despite several advancements in science and technology, menstruation still remains a taboo. For people to come out of the stigma is still an uphill task.

Why do women menstruate? Not something that they do out of sheer chance but definitely something that is the sole reason for the existence of humans. Ovulation leads to the creation of eggs that eventually develops into an embryo and gives birth to a new life. Giving birth to a new life is perhaps the most beautiful feeling one undergoes. If a girl doesn’t bleed, she can’t breed. Such is the importance of menstruation in our lives and despite that our society chooses to be naïve by treating a woman during her monthly cycle as impure and untouchable. In some household such woman are debarred from eating, sleeping, performing daily chores and even worshipping. They are asked to be in hibernation for those days of the cycle.

Off late, what caught my attention is the “Happy to bleed campaign” circulating on social media that was instigated after  a ‘sexist’ statement put out by a Hindu temple in Kerala .Using the hashtag #happytobleed, women are making a stand against ‘rules’ introduced by the chief of a famous Sabarimala temple, which currently bans all women of reproductive age from 10 to 50.Prayar Gopala Krishnan  quoted that he would only allow female worshippers into the shrine, which is dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, unless there is a machine invented to detect whether or not the women visitors have their periods or not. He told reporters that he was waiting for a scanner that could tell whether it is the “right time” for menstruation or not. For a country that has worshipped female as Goddess Durga, Laxmi, Sarasvati and kali, such baseless restrictions only add as an insult to our rich heritage and culture.

Menstruation is a natural phenomenon and it doesn’t need curtains to hide behind. What the society needs to do is to break the shackles and come out in the open to support this nature’s cycle. What we as a woman need to do is to openly come out and talk about the problems faced during menstruation, the pangs, the mood swings, the irritation, the pain ,with your husband, partner and friends. Unless we as woman stop to be indifferent during menstruation, the society will not be able to cope up with this age old taboo . Let’s be proud of the fact that we as woman have this ability to initiate evolution my menstruation and enjoy the freedom to bleed and be happy too

Arpita Deb

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