Monday, September 3, 2012

Menstrual Taboos in Hinduism: Menstrual Monday

Menstrual Taboos in Hinduism 

Every culture has it's own taboos and rituals that revolve around menstruation. 
Its Monday, I'm Menstruating and I just got done whipping up some Indian food. 
So, my mind somehow went to Hinduism and menstruation. 

So, I thought I would take a peek at some of the menstrual taboos you can find in Hinduism.
This is NOT an attack on Hinduism at all. Every culture/religion has its own taboos regarding menstruation, mine included {that should be a fun Menstrual Monday}. This was just something I was interested in learning a little bit about while I ate my yummy samosa... or several of them.  
sign in front of a Hindu Temple

  1.  The law of Manu states that a Brahman, while eating, should not look at a menstruating woman.  
  2. The Vŗddhahārt-smŗti states that a wife had to be burned alive if on her husband’s death, she was menstruating.
  3. The onset of menstruation brings to a woman’s body an openness to shakti, life energy that is viewed as intentional, powerful allure in vulva and breast that can also be harmful if it is not controlled. This power when contained creates an orderly, functional, and joyous world; or when it is out of control it can literally burn the house down.
  4. Hindu women are considered to be impure during menstruation, and might pollute others who come into contact with them. To keep from polluting male relatives, a woman could not touch them for 13 days. Once married, a woman should sleep separately from her husband during menstruation. The same no-touch rule applies. 
  5. To protect others from perceived contamination, Hindu menstruating women have to use separate utensils for eating and drinking. They also need to wash their clothes separately and themselves.
  6. Cooking was prohibited for almost all Hindu women in India and Nepal during menstruation.  Girls during their menstruation are considered 'impure' and hence are not allowed to enter the kitchen. It was also believed that food would go bad if a menstruating woman handled it.
  7. In the Vyāsa, menstruating women only can lie on the ground, eat once at night, and are not able to speak or move.
  8. Menstrual seclusion rites as recorded over the last few centuries typically include three basic taboos: the menstruating women must not see light, she must not touch water, and she must not touch earth.
  9. Attending to a visitor is banned for menstruating women. Some Hindu women are additionally not permitted to wear new clothes or look at themselves in a mirror.
  10. The main taboo for Hindu women during menstruating is that they cannot worship: a girl should not visit a temple or offer prayer to God while she is menstruating. According to these beliefs and customs a girl who has periods is impure and hence, should not touch anything that shall be given as an offering to God. They also cannot take part in the religious ceremonies 
  11. It is so said that a girls during their menstruation should not touch pickles . According to the Hindu myths if they do so the pickle rots away.
  12. Basil plants are considered to be holy in Hinduism, hence girls during their periods are not allowed to touch them. They cannot even let their shadows fall on the plant during this time- if she does, according to the myths, the basil plant dies.  
While these taboos range in the level of restriction put on menstruating women from no cooking or physical touch all the way to no anything but lying down- I have to say- I am in agreement with the idea that women's Uteri have the capacity to both create a joyous world or, you know, burn houses down.


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