Despite the fact that menstruation is a biological, natural and an obvious part of women’s life, menstruation is still taken as a taboo in Nepali society. In a conservative Nepali society, taboos and myths about menstruation not only exclude women from social relations but also snatches their freedom to enjoy their rights on her first four-five consecutive days.
As ridiculous as it sounds, the modern society in Kathmandu; the capital city of Nepal, the problem still exists in its core. And when it comes to solving the superstitious thoughts about periods, they get silenced somehow. It may be because we all have been raised based on the set of rules designed ‘in the name of God’.
The community where I have been raised is traditional and conservative. People here believe that one must follow the religion and abide by the traditions. According to the tradition, females during their period must strictly follow some rules.
The rules strictly prohibit women on the period from entering kitchens or temples, eating with male members of the family or sitting in the same dining table, sleeping in their own regular beds and even celebrating festivals.
On the first period, girls are hidden for almost one week from male members of the family. They are declared untouchable by even other females because women are considered as ‘impure’ or ‘dirty’ during their periods. They are taught certain lessons like- if bleeding women touch a plant, it will wilt if they pick fruits, it doesn’t ripen, it is a sin to enter a temple and so many other obligations that make no sense at all.
Likewise, girls spend their teenage life questioning themselves that how could a biological function be a sin.
Even the educated ones shy away or hesitate from addressing the menstrual issues because it is imbedded in our minds and that is what we are taught from generations to generations. And it is still something that makes us feel uncomfortable though we call ourselves civilized.
Meanwhile, I wish that I was born a boy. No periods, no worries. It’s all because I am compelled to follow traditional rules of periods although I hate to do so. I am labeled as ‘untouchable’ during my periods. While I am fighting with my unpredictable psychological stress, I am expected to remember not to touch my father and brother, not to touch the food, not to enter in the kitchen, and moreover be conscious.
It is really difficult dealing with the older people who follow ‘period rules’. Equally, it is really complicated to change a long-held tradition which has been practiced for so many years.
However, there has been a slight improvement in the mentality from my grandmother’s to my mother’s and my generation. Though I have a long way to go, I want to make periods happy, taboo-free and hygienic.