Friday, 19 November, 2010

Religion, Menstruation, Frustration.

So, what's your religion? Every social networking site gives you the option to flaunt your religious views. Facebook friends will post a religious scripture everyday, telling you what a commandment has to say. (At such times, I have to question myself, is he/she actually on my friend list... why!) Close friends would probably ask you, 'Are you religious?'

My answer is that I don't know.

Right from when you're very young, you're taken to a 'place of worship', you're taught a 'way of worship', you're taught a 'way of life'. Or you learn. Because you see others doing it. You see your mother or grandmother or aunts going to the temple, you see your father or grandfather or uncles sporting a vermilion mark (tilak i.e.) on their head, you see a room in your house where according to your religion, Hindu idols and Geeta or Quran or Bible or Guru Granth Sahib is kept.

And when someone asks your religion, you answer what you have been taught.

There are many people who will, to the end of their lives, answer this question the same way. Reason? They will never question what their elders tell them with respect to religion. They will never question why you have to worship a fixed number of times each day. They will never question why you have to wash your hands before appearing in front of an idol/touching a holy book, or why you cover your head. But these do not disturb me to a very large extent. Mostly, because I ignore them. No, not the questions, the supposed rituals.

But what does disturb me is the fact that they will never question why every month for four days their mothers/wives/daughters are made to keep away from kitchens and the so called 'places of worship'. That they will never question why the women folk in their lives undergo discrimination over something which, given a choice, they would never choose; and something which is natural, as natural as natural can get.

When I learned of these things, as every girl does, my first reaction was amazement. Amazement at how low some people can get. That they have the audacity to term me, for four days, unfit to worship at that altar, where otherwise I am supposed to bow and pray, and offer my servitude. That they have the audacity to instruct me on what I should do and what I should not do, because they think they know better; and because they are rules.

Rules: something I haven't been fond of, ever since I learnt how to break them.

But, ok, let me ask you a few questions, you know, not because you're going to change my attitude, but just to see, how much lower can you really get. Humor me.

Most religions suggest isolation during 'those days'. So, you mean that for 4 days, I should sit and stare at the ceiling? Like I am in prison, because I have committed a crime and I am a threat to the society; because your pea-size brain thinks I am impure and as a result whatever I come in contact with, I will contaminate it.

Anyway, we'll gloss over this one, because nobody gives a damn to it these days. Women work at all sorts of posts in every sphere, and there's no way they're wasting their 'leaves' for stupidity.

Next, most scriptures do not let you cook food. So, you mean, that I can control the economy of the world and I can control the crore employees that my company/organisation employs (Hillary Clinton, Indira Nooyi, Chanda Kochar) but I can't fix myself a plate of pasta? In the earlier days, in bigger households, where you had lot of housework to do, resting and not cooking during those times made sense. Today, all I have for you are expletives that I will not state here, because unlike you, I have been taught manners. Manners, you know the thing you require to build relations, the things which are the actual mirror to a personality, not the baseless ones like your hypocritical philosophies.

My folks do not believe in this. So I'm good.

Next, they don't let you enter places of worship. Now, not exactly the way to create fans, as I am sure you would agree. So you mean, while I am required to pray twice (five for Islam) a day normally, I am for four days, not eligible to touch that idol or that holy book, because my aura has a lot of negativity and dirt, and that would spoil your environment. Now had I been a cigarette, I could've agreed to this, because when I am burning on the inside uttering the choiciest expletives for you and your level of soch, I might've had a smelly aura, that could've spoilt your environment. But then I am not one, so we won't delve deeper into that.

My way of showing that I so don't care about what you believe in: I shun every religious place of worship in the world! Where you say you won't admit me for 4 days a month, honey, I say I won't admit you in my life for a single moment.

Having said that, let me add on. The earliest scriptures, the Vedas, (as far as my internet search revealed, i haven't read them... yet ) do not say anything about this. And I believe, that every so called religious book is a farce.

And did you know, there actually is a Menstruating Goddess in India. Want proof?

When we're menstruating, the body is weaker because we're losing a lot of blood. Of course, the discomfit can't help. Obviously, it's not by choice. So when you see a PMS alert, it is the frustration of this lack of choice, that is causing that alert.

Another grouse I have is that people refuse to discuss these things. Because they should be in the closet, knowing fully well how stuffy it can get in there. So before you choke, unsolicited advice which is also common sense: get out of it. So when I put this as a topic for GDs, don't deride it because you think at 19-20, people are too young to have an opinion about it. Otherwise, because of you, they will never have one.

Coming back to my religion, I am disillusioned. I believe in The Secret, and try to follow it, because it is so free of anything that even remotely reeks of religion. I believe that what goes round will come round, but I know that YOU or your sorry rules, will have had no hand in it.

P.S. If this sounds acerbic... the reason is... it is.
P.P.S. I have been wanting to write this for the past 3-4 months, but because I wanted to do a bit of search, I had postponed it. And now that I have researched, every "rule" I have stated is true to the best of my knowledge.
P.P.P.S. If you're someone trying to make me change my point of view, my suggestion, don't bother...

Added later on her request: And oh, totally unrelated: Madhuri Iyer aka Mads's new URL is


Hit Wicked said...

Brilliant. the post confirms the double standard fake world we are living in. I feel both the shame and guilt being an Indian Hindu myself. Pich. Strong post. Good going Akansha!

Mads said...

How mean, Bhatt commented before me!! Why u asking my opinions in the first place!! Why do I even comment!!! *mutters abuses*

I'm so benevolent so commenting... I loved this line- Rules: something I haven't been fond of, ever since I learnt how to break them--- It suits u a lot....yaar ur such a taurean yaar...rebel and alll...

anyway :D nice strong post. I was shocked about that menstruating Goddess ka pic! Duh!
I strongly hope that such nonsense stops in future.
Good post on such a controversial subject....Kudos :)

Simba said...

arey u too taurean :O
*same pinches*
I liked the post :D
lucky fr me my mum doesnt believe all this nonsense :D
So I m allowed to visit temples also and she took me Pandal hopping during durga puja too when i was chumming :D
And kitchen rule toh doesnt make any sense in the times of nuclear families :|
Did u know tamils and malayalees have a puja and all when the girl has her first periods :D relatives and all come ad bless the girl and give her money also
Ask Mads to elaborate :P :P

Dark Covenant said...
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Dark Covenant said...
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Shimmer said...

This is Indeed a gud post! :) very brave of you to touch on such a sensitive topic. But at the same time I would like to clarify certain things, just so u know.

I am a Muslim girl, I am not supposed to pray on those 4-5 days, yes, but that only indicates to the prayer actions. If you see they are more like an exercise, so it is advised that a menstruating woman should take rest at that time and for others to care for her like one would take care for a sick/ill person. no muslim woman is dissalowed from asking dua's or reciting the qur'an or saying any supplications at that time or any time. :)

and about going to the mosques; in the old days women didnt hav much hygenic options as we do now, so it was told that she doesnt goto the mosque in order not to drip any blood in the surroundings. But if you had any need for going there, like to collect some artifact or something, you can surely go there and gt it.
And for touching the Qur'an , that I'm nt really sure why (should chk it out :P), there are some who say it is okay, and some don't think so. But it only says u cant touch with bare hands, wear a glove and read.. thats totally ok.

sorry for the long reply :S.
gud post tough :D wil bw sure to visit again ;)

take care

Firebolt said...

Now this is one great blog post, Akansha.. fortunately, my parents are very progressive and very liberal but whatever you said *has* to be followed when there are major festivals, and no woman is spared then..

I feel nauseated when I recall all these things.. but you are right, they must be brought into the open, men must be made aware of this and must know how difficult this time is for any female..

Great points in your post.. brings out the two-faced approach to almost everything in our society.. In my opinion, what could be more ironic than the worshippers of Laxmi and Durga killing a baby girl at her birth..

Rajat Garg said...

tan terrainnn..
maza a gaya padh ke..proud of you sis..I v come across few women who think differently, and even fewer who dare to act as per their own set of beliefs based on righteous facts. Kudos!
Kuchh cheezein thodhi incorrect hain, but baat bilkul sahi. Lets move out of such rituals, there are so many more such rituals that dont leave us although time has left them centuries behind.

IcE MaiDeN said...

wonderful post :) Something on the lines of what I think when people question me why I have a ganesh pendant, an arabic tattoo and a name thats catholic :P :) whats my religion they ask. I roll my eyes :| I dont have a particular religion that I follow (read: am fanatic about) but I do like to visit the church once in a while.. Reading the bible / geeta is more like a litrary reading for me than anything else.. The bottomline for me remains, to each his own.. :)

About mestruation, I dont really care. I guess I follow it mainly to keep mom from being grumpy, which for me is a big deal to bear. At the same time I made it clear that my daughter wont be following any of this nonsense... :)

And I think CAT improved your writing skills a great deal! kudos.. :)


Arshat Chaudhary said...

Hey Akansha,

I dont have any strong views on the matter. I just wanted to say it takes a lot of guts to speak your mind out like this. I know it must have been difficult. It was good to read your views. Got to learn something. Thanks.

Keep writing.


Rohit Dassani said...

Hmmm didnt know all this.... nice piece of research!! :)

Haresh said...

It's practiced at my home too. And, I'm so sick of it in spite of being a guy. I wonder how readily (?) people accept such discrimination :-|

manisha said...

wow thats some strong views you got there girl.Made me think how i have been complying to these rules all these years without even trying to question these age old customs for once

Akansha Agrawal said...

@hitwicked and @mads
enough said and done between us about it :)

I expect you and Mads as lawyers to make some laws to stop the nonsense ;)

my grouse is that rules(?) which are not relevant are being enforced upon us citing that... this has the way it has always been and so you're obliged to follow. :| I understand that in the earlier days, it must've been about hygiene and in bigger families, you really didn't have to participate in the house work and stuff; but when time has changed, why can't these people change?

No worries about long replies, I'd love it if more people spoke out instead of being mum. :) :)

Akansha Agrawal said...

These things need a voice, and following that voice has to be people willing to listen, change, adapt, believe, understand... both men and women. I hope that will happen, one day...

@Rajat bhaiya
Thank you *hugs*

Ah that compliment means so much to me... :D :D

Well keeping yourself grumpy is worse than keeping moms grumpy. So grumpy mom or not, I am not going to follow it. :)

Thank you :)

But you know, you're going to need views on it. Because, whether you like it or not, you will have to get associated with it one day.

You're welcome, and I hope you have some opinions too. Pliss to share.

Akansha Agrawal said...

I believe you can do something to change it. If it is upon the youth to change the country, shouldn't it be the same wrt stringent, useless and irrelevant religious diktats?

Nice to know that it got you thinking. Do something about it too. :)

Haritha Nair said...

A very bold Post! I am the one who believe that I can make a change, and now I feel happy that I have found a league of people through you, who are striving to make a change. Lets change the youth atleast. Coz I know women who are being sidelined and even harrassed to the extremes on the ground of their "sin days". I consider the days of menestruation as a re-inforcement to the fact that I am capable of producing quality human beings to this world. How beautiful it would be, if everybody can tag some such positive thoughts as a replace to such age old taboos....

Haritha Nair said...

And I dont know if you have observed it that the godddess of menestruation is placed on the exterior walls of the temple. How mean! And all the other women are "banned" on those 4 days, even to visit the goddesses.

Akansha Agrawal said...

Hi!It's nice to know more people who believe in the same. :) I agree, the world would be so much better as a place to live in, if we removed these taboos and we could see them as the gift they are.

I did not pay attention to the fact that it is outside the walls... :-s Plain gross...! :|