Impure Women, Menstrual Cycles and Temples
Part 1: Impure Women, Menstrual Cycles and Temples
Part 2: The Exploitation of the Women
Part 3: The Women's Liberation Movement: A Wrong Turn
In today’s world, when we see that women are equal to men, there still exists a roadblock that denies them to enter the temple and places of worship during their menstrual cycles.
Women are considered impure and thus are restricted from entering temples, touching holy plants like Basil and in some remote places, they are abolished from cooking. Society observes menstruation as a taboo, perceived as a dirty phase in the life of women. Many women feel that this is the unfortunate gift given to them by nature every month which drives their emotions, causing the hormonal imbalance leading to anger, depression, and a tendency to fight. In the past, there were more restrictions on women during their periods. She was supposed to stay in a separate room away from family for 3 to 5 days, should not dress her hair, should refrain from any kind of makeup and other facilities. Many of these practices don’t exist now but, some of them still prevail.
I came across many interviews of women who say that in today’s world, there should not be any restrictions on women entering the kitchen, dressing, and makeup. They now don’t maintain a distance from the family and even cook the food. But many of them still believe that a woman should not enter a temple when they are menstruating. Let us understand the science behind abstaining women from these daily activities during her periods. In old times, there was no existence of the concrete jungle as we have now. There were no national parks or secluded places where wild animals can live. There used to be a village within the jungle-like a national park within a city. During the menses, the bleeding of the women may attract the wild animals which may create undue danger. Besides, the women of that era had to undergo a lot of physical activity such as farming, cooking, washing, and looking after kids. Also, in her periods, the woman is mentally weak and can attract any negative energy which might come along her way, when she steps out. Hence, during her periods, this abstinence would give her some time to relax. In today’s modern world, there are sanitary pads available to look after hygiene, and wild animals don’t exist walking all over. Women these days do not indulge in much physical activity. The women now don’t consider their menstrual cycles as taboo and now are open to discuss this topic. In India, there are many temples like Sabarimala, Shani Dev which have not allowed women to enter, even if they are not in their menses. The Honourable Supreme Court has already ruled out those restrictions, but still, women do not enter the temples in their menses. They still have the same thought process which has been prevailing for centuries.
One important thing to be noted is a human enters the temple to raise their awareness, their consciousness. All the religions so far, are educating mankind, that a temple is a place that will raise the consciousness of humanity. The consciousness is connected to the awareness of the soul, and its liberation. The soul is neither male nor female. If the soul or consciousness is not male or female, then what is the problem for a woman entering the temple during her periods? It is her body that is going through the biological changes, whereas the soul and consciousness are in their place at peace. She has all right as men to enter and worship the deity. The temple exhibits very strong positive vibrations which will help women to overcome their hormonal imbalances and relieve them from depression. God or existence whatever you name it, always accepts everyone in whatever condition they are. We are a part of the whole and if I am impure, so is the whole. The body does not undergo liberation, the soul does. Neither the body of a man can merge with the ultimate nor of a woman. They will be burnt when the use is over. The existence cannot differentiate between a man and a woman. No one dares to say whether the soul is male or female. Still, they outlay all the restrictions on women from entering the temples. The woman is conditioned from her childhood that she is impure and should not enter the temple during her menses. These restrictions have been used as a tool to repress the woman for centuries. The very identity of a woman is put at stake by considering them impure during their menstrual cycles.
Stay tuned to know more about the repression and its outcomes, do check out the next part which is ‘The Exploitation of the Woman’.
- Dr. Dhananjay Patel