I was reading about the latest news on Sabarimala. Bindu Ammi, a woman seeking entry into Sabarimala temple attacked with chilli spray.
Now Sabarimala issue is not very new to anyone. But those who are not aware, let me brief you about Sabarimala temple.
For many years, women devotees of menstruating age(10 to 50 years in that time of the month) were not permitted to worship here, this ban being said to be out of respect to the celibate nature of the deity in this temple.
But, in September 2018, a judgement of the Supreme Court of India ruled that all pilgrims regardless of gender, including women in the menstruating age group too, should be allowed entrance to Sabarimala.
The Constitution bench of the Supreme Court held that any exception placed on women because of biological differences violates the Constitution.
Now that was such a great step towards gender equality. Isn’t it?
But there’s a twist .
This verdict led to protests by people who oppose the verdict. Several women attempted to enter Sabarimala despite threats of physical assault against them but failed to reach the temple.
Two women belonging to the previously barred age group finally entered the temple defying protests on 2 January 2019 with the help of police through the back gate. And then the temple was closed for purification.
And guess what. The ban is still there.
“We will visit Sabarimala temple today. Neither the state government nor the police can stop us from visiting the temple.” she said in an interview.
But, again the attempt failed.
My today’s topic of discussion is the same and I want you all to write your reviews on such ‘not so discussed’ topic.
My story : That time of the month !
I remember, I was in 8th when I got my first period. Almost 24-25 years back. And the first thing my mother told me was “You can’t enter a place of worship.
No temples for 4 days in that time of the month. You can only enter a place of prayer once you’ve washed your hair on or after the fourth day.”
And I said OK.
I mean, I was not even able to get down from my bed also with a very bad pain in my stomach, so I just gotta remember that precaution I had to take while in periods.
But unknowingly those words were engraved in my mind forever.
I followed the same thing for many years. Never raised any question about the reason why women are not allowed to touch the feet of GOD in those days.
But years later, in my engineering days, I was staying in a hostel. And I had a roommate who was christian.
Every Sunday we used to go with her in a church. It was a routine for all 3 of us.
One Sunday I had periods and I said to her that I would not be going with her in church as I had periods.
And she was surprised. “So what ? we have no such rules” she said.
And I was taken aback.
I was thinking, how their GOD accept menstruating women in their church and only my GOD have all the problems.
After a long discussion, I went with her but stood outside the church as I could not go inside half heartedly. Don’t know why.
If you ask your previous generation people, they will give you n-number of reasons for the restriction for women in periods.
Among them some I found logical and some are totally illogical.
Many say that we should respect the practices that were started by our ancestors. And the conclusion is, you will never get a satisfactory answer.
The practice of isolating women during that time of the month exists across the country in differing forms. In some places, women cannot be in their own homes.
While in others, women can be in the house but not in the kitchen and worship room. They are also forbidden from touching other people and growing fruit and vegetables.
Growing up in a fairly open-minded family I’ve noticed & questioned this about religions in general.
It’s the rules always apply more to women than men. Guess why?
Yes! They were all without exception made by men. And all the women follow it blindly.
In case of Sabarimala, I can understand 50 % of my readers would be with the court that women should be allowed to enter the temple and some would be against the verdict as it’s against the old tradition of that temple.
Traditional things are never to be compromised for some.
Sanitary Napkins : The Confusion
But few things I have never understood are, why are sanitary napkins be treated like gold coin bought from a jewellery shop?
They are wrapped in lots of layers of newspaper.
Is it the fact that men should not see even a little corner of this packet? The person in the medical shop himself try to pack it so tightly as if other men should not see it.
So it’s also other tradition which still continues for years, to hide the packet from men. And forget the truth that, it’s just a biological function which, in fact, enables us to give birth to specimens like them. Isn’t it ?
But then, we as a woman, ourselves keep our sanitary napkins in secret places. And also get embarrassed when one falls out of our purse by accident instead of being proud of our supernatural bodies that go in that phase every month for decades.
Also, we always whisper in each other’s ears about our that period by calling it as ‘Happy birthday’ or ‘some problem’ Right ?
Menstruating is slightly uncomfortable, sometimes painful and one of the most natural functions of the human body.
I mean, Have you ever met GOD ? Has he told all these rules for female devotees ?
Sometimes I feel that I should shout and tell other ladies that hello, menstruating has nothing to do with spoiling pickles or foods, or Tulasi plants.
Please come out of that.
I totally agree, with scientific approach that women have all the rights to enter the temple. That’s what democracy is.
Also, there are many initiatives across the country to go against such traditions. Feminists across India are making this a gender issue but they are so very deeply rooted that am doubtful about it’s success.
You know what ? ‘not going to temple in menstruation’ is so so etched into my mind, that in future in that time of the month in my periods, if the GOD himself comes out of his temple and hold my hand to take me in his temple,I think I would not listen to him and run away from there.
Maybe or may not. I am not sure.
So even educated in science and technology and after learning so many things, I am not able to accept this drastic change, how can we expect the same from those old orthodox people to make changes in their (even if wrong) rituals. It’s not impossible but seems very difficult.
In my opinion there are a million of issues that need to be addressed for women. Starting with female foeticide to equal pay to right to education for a girl child to providing toilet facilities to women.
Why to go to a temple where GOD himself is not ready (human decided)to bless you?
Frankly speaking, pray from anywhere and you will get heard. He is there with you and he’s everywhere.
A true feminist will focus on issues that matter & issues that will help women lead a liberated life in the true sense.
What’s your opinion on this ?