What The Scripture Says...
Culturally in many parts of India, menstruation is still considered to be dirty and impure.
The Vedas never explicitly mentioned anything about performing rituals during menstruation.
Most of the beliefs for menstruating women arise from Ayurveda.
These ideals were influenced by the laws of the Manusmriti (a legal text among the many Dharmasastras of Hinduism), which treated menstruation as an impure contagious disease.
Cultural Practices Under Fire
Many well-meaning menstruation practices were provided by Ayurveda and Tantra, but these have been under fire as they are implemented through fear and inaccurate interpretation.
- Do not touch others
- Do not cook for family
- Do not enter the temple
The intent of these practices was a singular focus on protecting the women's reproductive health. It was misinterpreted as meaning that women are impure during their periods.
Belief: Do Not Enter the Temple
According to Tantra Shastra, temples are consecrated places for spiritual upliftment and cause the prana to move upwards towards the higher chakras of the body.
Release of blood from the body needs to move the prana downwards towards the earth during menstruation.
This causes an internal conflict in the menstruating woman’s body as there is a pull for the prana energy in both directions.
Belief: Do Not Touch Others
According to Ayurveda, menstruation creates cellular level changes in the body that forms free radicals. The way to counter free radicals is by having antioxidants.
If the excess free radicals remain unchecked, it results in oxidative stress, and the body starts to pull on prana energy from the living beings around it to energize. This is why it was suggested that menstruating women don't touch others.
Belief: Do Not Cook for Family
Prana: life force energy that exists in all living things
When women menstruate, they lose prana, causing exhaustion when they have their periods. Their body tends to absorb prana from other living beings around them, including fresh food.
It was believed that if a menstruating women cooks the food, she will be feeding the family food devoid of prana.
These days we eat a lot of food that is refrigerated, frozen or filled with preservatives. This is devoid of pranic energy too.
Ritual: Ritu Kala Samskara
The celebration of a girl's rite of passage after her first menstruation.
The young girl receives her first sari as a gift, signifying her transition into womanhood. Elders, relatives and friends give her their blessings and shower her with gifts.
Visit: Maa Kamakhya Temple
This temple in Assam is one of the oldest and most revered centers of Tantric practices, dedicated to the goddess Kamakhya
Unlike most other shrines, Maa Kamakhya temple has no idol. Instead, the object of worship is the yoni, or the vulva of Goddess Sati.
Why so much Shame?
there have been multiple incidents in the news that depict the current state of menstruation education. There is still much work to be done.
A report by the NGO Dasra pointed out that 23 million girls drop out of school annually due to a lack of proper sanitary pads and information about menstruation.
A man has been arrested for killing his 12-year-old sister over suspicion of sexual conduct. Police sources said it was very likely a misunderstanding as the girl had menstruated for the first time.
During a sermon delivered by a swami, he mentioned that menstruating women who cook food for their husbands will take birth as dogs in their next life. More than 60 girls were taken to the bathroom to check if they were menstruating.
Enjoyed this article?
Follow us on Instagram to read our weekly Theology Thursday posts!
Modi Toys is a children's brand of toys and books inspired by ancient Hindu culture. We exist to spread joy and to spark curiosity in the next generation through our innovative soft plush toys, illustrated children's books and free learning resources. Our weekly Theology Thursday series covers a wide range of topics rooted in Hinduism to help us better understand the origins of traditions, the symbolic meaning of rituals, and the stories behind Hindu holidays and festivals. The more we can understand "the why" behind this 4,000 year ancient religion, and make sense of it in this modern age, the greater we can appreciate and preserve our rich Hindu culture. While we take great care in thoroughly researching the information presented, we may occasionally get some things wrong. We encourage a healthy and open dialogue so we can learn together. Please leave a comment below or email us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to address any concerns.