Menstruation is a new festival
On one hand, Menstruation has always been considered unclean, impure and have shaped generations of misunderstanding and cultural stigmas but on the other hand, we have some Indian cultures which celebrate menstruation as a festival.
As Menstruation is considered a turning point in women's lives, it is also considered as a "girl's transition to womanhood "as it makes women fertile and potential for marriage.
As it makes the matter of hush, hush in some parts of the country, while in other parts It is also believed that fertility of mother earth (agriculture) and women are connected, two such festivals which are being celebrated in India are The "Ambubachi Mela" in Assam and Raja Prabha in Odissa.
There are many other which celebrates menstruation in old ancient ways.
The Ambubachi Mela
This four-day festival is celebrated during mid-June, there is an annual Fair held at "Kamkhaya temple" in Guwahati, Assam. Kamkhaya temple of Assam is the most well-known temple of Assam and the goddess Kamkhaya is worshipped in this temple.
This festival is celebrated to mark the yearly Menstruation of goddess Kamkhaya. Every year lakhs of pilgrims, from all over India, come to Guwahati to observe this festival.
The traditional belief associated with this festival is that the fertility of women is associated with nature (agriculture). During mid-June, the monsoon during this time add fertility to mother earth and helps her in procreation.
During these 4 days of the festival, it is believed that Goddess Shakti goes through the menstrual phase and hence the temple is closed for pilgrims. During that time, there are many rituals followed by devotees like not worshipping or reading holy books.
On the fourth day, various rituals take place for hours to retrieve the piousness of goddess Shakti.
The Raja Prabha festival
It is celebrated in Odisha, the word Raja comes from Rajas, meaning menstruation. It is three days, festival and on the fourth day also called Mithuna Sankranti, a ceremonial bath takes place.
During this festival, women's and girls buy new clothes, play games and exchange sweets.
It is celebrated in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. It is a five-day festival that takes place during menstrual hygiene day, May 28.
This festival aims to deliberately remove all the taboos and myths regarding periods by showcasing various arts, awareness sessions, skits, dances, poetry, cultural activities and workshops, etc.
There are several myths related to menstruation that has given rise to various social, cultural and religious norms that limit women to participate in various activities during periods. They are considered impure and not allowed to enter the kitchen, temple, touch pickles, etc. The secrecy related to menstruation has made it most made misunderstood biological function.
There are many other festivals celebrated in some parts of India to celebrate womanhood. These festivals recognize the importance of Menstruation in women's life. They declare that menstruation isn't taboo, it is a natural process.
Celebrating menarche and womanhood is a beautiful thing, especially in a culture where menstruation is barely talked about but we must try to avoid social exclusion and arbitrary rituals, focusing on the joyous celebration and family gathering to make people believe that menstruation is something that should be celebrated, not to be ashamed of.
There is nothing to be hushed about, break the silence.