20th February 2015
Millions of Indian women need URGENT support for safe menstruation. Kudos to Anshu Gupta for raising this issue.
I had a major blind spot till today – till I came across Anshu Gupta's video – below.
Please watch this fully (only 4 minutes) and then read the rest of this post. You won't get the point of this post till you listen to this talk.
Now for how did I come to this video?
A few days ago 18-year-old Anisha Bhavnani – younger than my daughter – wrote an article that I shared on my FB page. It focused on the useless taboo in India about menstruating women not being able to enter temples. Fortunately her mother doesn't think so. Which is why, I suppose, Anisha had the "guts" to write about this issue.
When I wrote against this utterly useless taboo on FB, someone objected vigorously. Anyway, I moved on.
Today I received this email:
It has been brought to my attention that you (among others), are not very well informed about menstruation and why Hindus have a problem with women entering temples during that time. You think you are very advanced and modern and more educated than the ancient Hindus. Well, since it appears that your wife must not have told you this and maybe you never studied it at school, let me tell you that in simple terms, menstruation involves a lot a waste, dead matter, something similar to shit. And since you would not carry shit around with you to a temple (hopefully you will know why), similarly women should not 'carry' their waste matter to a temple.
Temples and kitchens were considered very important. Kitchens because the food cooked had to be Sattvic ( I shall not go into a detailed explanation of satvic. Try the internet). Temples too were meant for satvic bhakti vibes. True bhaktas were also empaths and wrong vibes adversely affected their bhakti. The original temple stones also had strong ions to aid satvic bhakti vibes.
Also, PMS is an issue for most women. This affects their mental health and they would prefer to rest.
Now, that temples are so crowded and kitchens and other living areas are so cramped not to mention other drastic changes, it may appear as if such customs are useless. But in theory they are not useless. And regardless of bhakti/satvic vibes, would anyone feel comfortable praying next to someone who may be carrying around a pile of shit on her? It is not the woman who is considered impure per se. Just because some people may not know how to express themselves properly does not mean you have to put everything down. People like you just exhibit your ignorance, wash dirty linen in public, and then when some white people applaud you for your disloyalty and idiocy, you start feeling very proud.
SHAME ON YOU. As an adult shouldn't you know better than to throw the baby and the bath water?
Today it is necessary to assess and understand each custom and ritual rationaly and then decided what to keep and what not to follow. Plus how often do people like you go to a temple anyways? You don't even care so why don't you just mind your own business?
And from there I've discovered Anshu Gupta, the founder of Goonj.
I had heard about Goonj before but never knew the details. Now I know. And I am very proud to discover a TRUE FIGHTER FOR WOMEN'S RIGHTS. Nothing can be more important than acting to overcome all preventable barriers to the health of Indian women.
In India they say the woman is the mother and Goddess. The way the treat women, though, doesn't sound much like treating a Goddess. Let this taboo against menstruation be urgently broken. Please support Anshu.
Anshu, you are a genuinely good man. You have educated not just thousands (millions?) of women, you have enlightened me, educated me. I wasn't aware that this is such a FUNDAMENTAL problem in India's villages.
I've travelled and worked in hundreds of villages – but on economic livelihood projects, not on such basis social issues. I've known Aruna Roy for a very long time and heard her talk many times. But not once did she raise this issue. And she lives in villages. Even Aruna Roy missed this fundamental social problem.
Hats off to you, Anshu. I will now study more and raise awareness about this issue at every opportunity.
THERE IS NOTHING SHAMEFUL ABOUT NATURAL PROCESSES. IT IS BECAUSE OF MENSTRUATION THAT WE EXIST. It is nature's way of clearning "used" tissue after each unused egg cycle and creating fresh tissue for the birth of a child. Each child deserves brand new tissue on which to grow. That's what menstruation is: preparing a woman for the next child. What could be more miraculous than this.
The woman is a Goddess, but the Goddess has certain needs. Please help fund Goonj and similar efforts to get each Indian women sufficient supply of sanitary napkins.
When an egg (out of a woman's 400 odd eggs) matures it reaches the fallopian tube (btw, I remember this vividly from 40 years ago – from my biology textbooks, but it is time to provide more accurate biological refresher for everyone, including myself. Over to google search).
THE BIOLOGY OF MENSTRUATION
I think this is a good enough video to explain mensuration. Unfortunately I can't embed it, so you'll have to visit youtube:
Once again, join me in commending Anshu Gupta's work. Well done, young man.