On 11th of Oct it was khojagiri. My mom kept the milk in the moonlight. It is believed that the rays coming from the full moon enters the milk and whoever drinks that milk, his/her life is filled with prosperity. I was sitting at my computer desk when my mother called me and told me to bring the pooja ki thali. I just answered back "well why won't you take it yourself". My mother got angry and said she can't. I asked why. You should stop questioning everything, just get me the thaali. I said I want to know, maybe then I'll bring it. She said ask your father. Normally, I would have given up because if it concerns my father or rather he has forbidden mother from touching the resting place of the idol, maybe it is something serious (and for the good) (I just deleted one whole paragraph about my dad. To know more about me and dad refer this). But, this time I was adamant. I called my father and narrated the whole event and asked him about it. He just told me to question my mother instead and do whatever my mother is asking. I brought the thaali and asked her again. She got fed up and just blurted that it would be over when she achieves her menopause. I could see she was embarrassed. I don't know why but I was not. Instead I asked "what has menstrual cycle to do with religion?". She gave me a look that it was time for me to shut my mouth now. (shit, now I am not young enough to pass as innocent and curious)
I was thinking all sorts of connections between menstrual cycle and religions. At the point when I couldn't take it anymore, I asked HER. She threw some light on it. She said, yes it is followed in every religion and when women undergo their menstrual periods, they are banned from entering temples, kitchens and not allowed to take part in any ritual. I just said, when GOD doesn't segregate among his followers then why do humans do it? I wanted to know more. She, being a woman, said she couldn't talk about it anymore (sorry you had to go through all that embarrassment). I had to know more. The next day I received a text from dad "that day you asked a question. I want you to search for menstrual cycle". I did a search on Google (not just menstrual cycle but a step farther, menstrual cycle and religion). Here are some results that I got.
I could summarize all above in a few points
1. As far as I know, Hinduism and Jainism follow it. The Muslim community does it too. And she was nice enough to tell me all communities do it.
2. It is believed that when a women is having periods, she is abnormal (true to some extent since her activities are quite eccentric). Science says its true. But, it doesn't insist on isolating women for that time. Some old and modern practices with their beliefs:-
a. Women undergoing menstrual periods are impure. Thus whatever they touch is impure. Hence, they aren't allowed to enter the kitchen and barred from doing daily chores. Since they bleed, and the blood is impure, they aren't allowed to enter temples which is a sacred place.
The reason? Science and religion agree on its origin. Like sperms are created every now and then in male genitals, females produce eggs frequently (to give you a better perspective, refer http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Menstrual_cycle). So, egg has to be replaced. The egg is 'destroyed' and then passes out of the body through 'blood'.We all know life starts from this egg. So the religious belief is that since 'life' is 'destroyed' and its remains are in that 'blood', that 'blood' is impure and so the women is impure too. And that's why impure women are isolated.
b. Women's behavior is rather sensual than normal during this period. So the muni's and pundit's that are there in temple get disturbed by the 'erotic' vibrations coming from such women. Hence, women are kept away from temples and rituals so they won't interfere. (If I wasn't serious about this topic, I would have laughed at their stupidity)
There was also one practice that was indeed a positive one. It said that when women go through this phase, they are healing. They should be relieved from their duties and be allowed to take rest. And at the end, they are given a bath so they can resume their duties towards the home. (this sounded nice, except the bath.Why is there a question of purity?)
I am not a religious person. But I know enough that in every religion it is taught to show equality towards every human being (even if you show equality only for people of same religion, I would be grateful). When GOD doesn't favour anyone, nor does he detest who is impure (even if she actually isn't impure), who gave you the right discriminate? Tell me something, even if she (BODY) was impure, and believing that the interaction with GOD is through the SOUL, does it make any sense to ban her from the temple? Are you implying that her soul is tainted too? I have read articles. Women are quite active too within this period. SO the family takes advantage of this situation and give her more work, washing clothes, washing utensils, labour and what not. Following the belief that she is impure, women aren't allowed to sleep with the husband, forced to sleep in an isolated place. Not allowed to talk to anybody. Not allowed to pray, not allowed to touch the deity. Is it right to treat women like this?
So, I think, people suffering from AIDS shouldn't be allowed to enter temples too. Aren't they impure too? Is there soul tainted too? Decades ago women weren't supposed to live after their husband's death. They were burn't alive on their husband's pyre. The act is known as sati pratha. Some time back widows weren't allowed to enter any auspicious event because they bring bad omen with them.
Two days back my mom confessed. She said she knows that it is wrong, she was taught this by her mother, and her mother by 'her mother' and so on. But, when you are living in the society, you have to have think of that too. Tomorrow if someone comes and sees me what will they think of me? I had to agree with her. Sometimes, knowing that it is wrong doesn't matter. I consulted more friends. One of them said "rule banane wala bhi insaan aur rule todne wala bhi insaan, ye galat hai sirf pata hone se kuch nahi hota, wahi follow karna padta hai jo duniya sochti hai" I couldn't agree more. I don't know if it's a social evil or not, because I have seen masses following it. They so proudly speak of equality when they have a gaping hole in their religious belief which they choose to ignore.
1. I think this belief should face the same fate as many others that once prevailed.
2. One of my fellow bloggers was kind enough to guide me. Thank you for the help. She has two posts on related issues
3. I was supposed to wait for dad to come home discuss further on this topic. I couldn't wait one single day. He believes that it is wrong, that's all I wanted to hear.
4. All said and done, stay Blessed ^_^