Mother Earth Bleeds

Menstrual Taboos are not unique to Hinduism, I happen to read this article in the Sunday Mumbai Mirror blog by Devdutt Pattanaik. Interestingly it argues how Menstruation has more to do with gender than religion. It illustrates different narratives around menstrual taboo construed by various religions across India, Russia, China and even Nepal. One such story, which I tried to illustrate is from Odisha, where during the Raja festival, the earth is said to menstruate and women are not allowed to work and instead are asked to relax and play on swings. Now interestingly, the blog ends with the argument of women demanding menstrual leave as an believe of keeping women away from the workplace during menstruation- giving them much needed physiological rest and acknowledging womanhood. The problem with this is that the idea of menstrual leave is not limited to its mere acknowledgement, it goes beyond that to various structural issues of women having no access to public infrastructure, toilets during menstruation. Menstruation is not an illness, it’s a natural process that has to be dealt with rational understanding of well-being, hygiene and infrastructure. #menstrualleave is one step towards it.