Women in Indian society are lucky chaps – they are compared with Goddesses. A girl who excels in academics is Saraswati, one who is good in household stuff is Laxmi, and the corporate lady who rushes home to prepare dinner for husbands and kids is, of course, Durga. So unlike our Western sisters we are always in a better position. We stay safely on a pedestal, with the whole society looking up to us, respecting us, never ever doing the travesty of asking us for a drink (are you serious?) or casual sex (doesn’t exist in India!) .
In the north-east state of Assam, there is a famous temple called the Kamakhya temple. What separates Kamakhya from all the other goddesses is that she menstruates. Each year for three days in the monsoon season, the temple is closed on account of the yearly menstruation cycle of the goddess. A fair is held at that time, and after the three days, Prasad is distributed among the devotees, which consists of Angodak (bodily fluid; water from the spring) and Angabastra (red cloth covering the body). Every year lakhs of pilgrims attend this festival and celebrate this festival of fertility.
The same doesn’t generally hold true for a Indian woman. Menstruating women are seen as unclean, filthy, even untouchables in some places. They are not allowed to enter a temple or to take part in an Anjali. In some parts of India, for those four days, they are secluded in a part of the house and forbidden to talk to any male members. In a lot of villages, women do not get the basic sanitary requirements; they have to rely on old recycled clothes which are troublesome and unhygienic, sometimes causing serious infection to the user. Even in urban India, still now, sanitary products are sold in black paper bags to hide them. The topic of periods is a taboo in schools, colleges, work places. But, ironically, in the same society, fertility is a big deal. So you should bleed silently and when the time comes, produce a baby. The Goddess can have it, but not a common woman.
Image Courtesy: http://www.menstrupedia,com