Mentruation is hardly ever conversed openly or publicly in India. It also holds true for me even though I am in a medical profession. I found myself hesitating to share this BBC post. I know of families in which ladies are not allowed in the kitchen or allowed to pray or go to temples.Why is it that the lady of the house who prepares food and does all the family chores on all the other days of the month, abruptly become polluted and deficient only because she is going through a cycle in her body which is normal and natural? Why are there temples in India which have put up boards not allowing menstruating woman from entering? Why do educated chemists or shopkeepers wrap up sanitary napkins in paper or brown bag before discreetly handing them over to the customer?

The terms “menstruation” and “menses” are derived from the Latin mensis(month), which in turn relates to the Greek mene  (moon) .

I knew about the restrictions in Hindu households, that lead me to read about views in other religions too. This is more or less cut and paste from Google.

In Buddhism (Theravada or Hinayana) menstruation is viewed as “a natural physical excretion that women have to go through on a monthly basis, nothing more or less”. However, in Japanese Buddhism, menstruating women are banned from attending temples.

Guru Nānak, the founder of Sikhism, condemned the practice of treating women as impure while menstruating.

Jainism does not permit women to cook or attend temples while menstruating.

Menstruating women were not allowed to visit any of the Kami shrines.  Even today, women are not allowed to enter Shinto shrines and temples during menstruation, and in some instances, women are completely banned from climbing the tops of sacred mountains due to their ‘impurity’.

Conservative//traditionalist members of the Orthodox Church observe the ancient practice of abstaining from Holy Communion during menstruation.

Orthodox Judaism forbids women and men from even touching or passing things to each other during this period. While Orthodox Jews follow this exclusion, many Jews in other branches of the religion do not.

In the Qur’an it is considered a “harm” or a nuisance, and women should not be pestered during this time. Respect for women on their period is valued. They are advised to not enter the mosque without any important purpose, but are encouraged to be present at religious services such as Eid Al-Adha or Eid Al-Fitr. After the period, a spiritual bath, which is also required of both partners after sex, Ghusl, is also required before prayer and fasting may continue. Ritual bath for purification is more or less followed in all religions.

So it’s refreshing when one finds a swimmer talk openly about the discomfort during menstruation and the consequences.

Happy Independence Day.

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