One of the most significant aspects of menstruation is that it marks the transition from girlhood to womanhood. In the old days, this transition was marked by a period of celebration as the elders claimed that the girl is now as fertile as nature. Over the course of time, however, menstruation not only became a taboo but several myths began to emerge from half-baked tales, most of which lacked authenticity.
There are still several places in India which celebrate menstruation just like it was done in the ancient times. We want to share with you those festivals which celebrate menstruation in all its brightness:
The state devotes a three day-long festival known as Raja Prabha, organised by women, to celebrate menstruation and womanhood.
It is commonly believed that during these three days Mother Earth or ‘Bhudevi’ menstruates. A ceremonial bath is arranged on the fourth day. This is aligned with another ritual called ‘Mithuna Sankranti’, signifying the first showers of monsoon.
The fourth day is also synonymous to productivity of the soil caused by the showers. Women and girls celebrate with new clothes and sweets, while taking a break from any kind of work.
2. Tamil Nadu
Manjal Neerattu Vizha is a turmeric bathing ceremony celebrated by women for nine days. It acknowledges a girl’s coming-of-age when she gets her first period.
The girl puts on a beautiful saree and gold jewellery. She sits with other younger girls who are yet to reach puberty.
She receives her first saree from the elders of the family.
The Ritushuddhi or Ritu Kala Samskara is the most commonly known ceremony that celebrates a girl’s transition to womanhood. This is also when she receives her very first saree.
During ‘the half-saree function’ the girl puts on a half-saree for the first time in her life. She will continue to wear it until her marriage when she drapes a full saree.
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This comic strip is inspired by the real-life first period experience of @jenny_the_joker . She said, "I don't have a mom. I was already informed by a few social workers in school. I was 13 when I got my periods and I informed my aunty and then she told my dad. And in South Indian families, we celebrate the menarche." Jenny is not her real name but she prefers to use the name of a favourite character from a book. It does give her a cool online personality, doesn't it? Thank you for sharing your story with us, Jenny. We love the way your family got together to make this personal milestone special for you. P.S: #NuaWoman community, #didyouknow what a half-saree is? It's a version of the saree that young girls wear, which used to be popular in the last century in many parts of South India. Nowadays, it's mostly worn for special occasions, especially to celebrate menarche. Hence, the name of the ceremony! Do you have a #FirstPeriod story that you want to share? Send it to us in a DM or comment here. #PeriodStories
4. Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Gujarat, and Uttar Pradesh
To raise awareness and make menstruation a part of everyday conversations, these five states celebrate Maasika Mahotsav.
The five-day long festival that culminates on World Menstrual Hygiene Day promotes menstrual hygiene through arts, cultural activities, sports, and other interdisciplinary projects.
These festivals recognise the importance of menstruation in a woman’s life. They assert that menstruation isn’t a taboo or a curse, it is a process as natural as rain drizzling on a green pasture.
Note. There are several myths and superstitions surrounding menstruation and we are sharing them with you right here.