Dear all readers,
If you want to express something it all comes in your mind, when you are tired exhausted want to just go to sleep or do nothing. I mean with the subjects, topics or ideas. An an idea just enters wild in your brain and keeps you up always.
I am having a storm of thoughts in mind while I am writing this article. Reality is not a subject that is well scripted, well organized or neat and clean. Before you read this I am trying to put an idea that I am sharing an experience and trying to give you a idea for reasoning something. There is this misconception of India that people follow old rituals or superstitious beliefs. On which there are certain things that needs to be seen and considered. After spending time out of India I realize that no one can really understand how amazing were the beliefs and how well they were incorporated in a society to be a better place to live. There are so many examples that can be given. In old days there were no LPG gas for domestic cooking purpose. SO, the cooking used to be done on traditional chulha made out of mud and cow dung.
The fuel for this chullha was also dried cow dung discs, those are gathered and preserved in the form of dried discs.
Entire flooring in house was also made of mud and cow dung. This was considered to be most hygienic way of living. It was in all houses rich or poor all. For every coming festivals there will be new layer of mud and cow dung mixture. It is still practiced in few part of India in rural areas. I have had an opportunity to live with my grand mom during my childhood in such house. Roof were not single roof but tiles fitted layer above layer in a rows and columns overlapping with each other. This not only kept house cool and pleasant but also well ventilated. If you get an opportunity to stay in a place like this. Stay there and see it is the best way of living I have experienced it. I am sure those who had this experience of living in such place would absolutely agree in this. I also believe that since we are moving in the new age of urban jungles, we or next few generations will be the last to experience or know about this kind of lifestyle. In those days when there were no toothpaste and tooth brush, people used to clean their teeth by using fine powder of Charcoal mixed with salt in it or green stem of Neem tree was chewed. Indians were strongly criticized for this kind of ‘considered unhygienic lifestyle’ practices. Today toothpaste companies sale their product for having salt and neem in it. While market is full of cosmetics made from Charcoal which are hot sales today. I am sure many companies are making packages from part of Indian lifestyle and making huge fortune out of it.
Menstruation is yet another myth that has a different understanding in India till now. Following are some beliefs that are still followed:
- 5 days no touching god idol or enter inside premises of temples.
- Head bath on 4th and 5th day of cycle.
- In some houses ladies are asked to sit in one place in the house and not allowed to do any work or touch anything, they are provided food and water in one place.
- Cannot participate in holy or auspicious celebrations in the group.
I am sure there must be many more beliefs and customs that might have been followed or practiced in different parts of India. I believe these practices were always misinterpreted and never were given a scientific outlook on it.
To understand this aspect one must know that in India there are few things done differently than rest of the world. For example Everyday early morning yoga then shower then offering prayers and then have a breakfast. Some parts of India even practice of entering kitchen only after taking shower and tied hair. The house is cleaned everyday dusting, broom your entire house and surrounding premises, watering plants and washing and drying clothes. These activities are covered mostly by a lady of the house which also includes preparation of breakfast fresh lunch box that goes with people stepping out for work or school by 07:45a.m. or even early. Let me add one a point to the daily activities that, India is the only place who has more than 100 vegetarian dishes that can be made for breakfast. Rest all parts of world has egg to support this aspect. Of course with added roles and responsibilities, pattern of executing morning work is shuffled for working-out mornings task and breakfast with more ready to make options also added egg option with supplements. The point is not to compare India with rest of the world its to see the work load that early morning Indians practice. Now let’s go back in the time, may be 30-40 years. In this case you can add up a joint family system but same work load. Actually, I would say more amount of work load. Water was fetched from near by wells. There were not many mixer grinder, blenders or food processors, for mixing masalas or day in day out activities. Scale of cooking food is huge due to joint family system that goes from breakfast, 5 meal lunch to snacks, and then end with 5 meal dinner. There is no pattern of leftover foods or same food in entire day. It was all freshly cooked food different twice a day and different every day. In the staple there is Chpati/bhakri item compulsory. so there was regular need of flour approximately 20-40kg per month for 6 people family. This has to be brought from market along with other lentils and spices. They will sit and clean them manually. Take it in a flour mill and bring it back that is roughly 10kg tin box. During summer ladies will take-up a joint tasks of preparing papads, pickles, jams and other items that were tedious and compulsory. These items are prepared during summer from March end to June. These needs really hard work as it is done during day time at peak sunlight and bright sunny day.
It used to be a joint task that will be planned by ladies in neighboring areas considering their menstrual cycles they will plan and make these products at home. This needs to be prepared spread under sunlight dried and stored in right methods. The food that is cooked daily will be offered to god first as neivadyam and then to entire family. Also during festivals there are special food being made also with this papad and pickle offerings in food plate to god. SO a menstruating women will not even touch this food items kept in house. During festivals there are some other items those are home made items prepare more. Sweets and Namkeen’s. More of work added to the lady. So it is my understanding that practice of making lady sit in one place during her menstruation is not to make her feel that she is dirty or untouchable.
It is for her to take off from the non stop work and relax and gather energy for work in next cycle. This is one of the reason I see that a lady is allowed to completely rest while she is menstruating. Add few more years, may be 20 years. There were no sophisticated equipment that could help for a lady in kitchen or cooking room. There were no flour mills but a huge and heavy cut rocks for making flour. Preparing milk and milk products were yet another manual tasks. Also, in those times there were no disposable sanitary napkins available. Its the old worn off cotton sarees those were torn and folded and used instead of pads. These clothes were then washed and reused and dried in sunlight. The smell of these clothes were too bad in such times travelling or walking was too difficult. As there used to be scars on legs till you bleed. Bathrooms were not well equipped with running tap water but it was stored limited water that used to be available for cleanliness and hygiene that we enjoy today.
In my view all the pilgrimage or old temples in India were located in far of distance places for which you need to travel from difficult terrains and even some time jungles. Suppose if a lady is menstruating and she is travelling from jungle with basic bullock cart or so, possibility of wild animal attack due to open smell of blood is very high. Secondly the places are not having any well equipped water supply and bathrooms for lady to take care of her hygiene and sanitation. Later all the temples are always having busy areas in the surrounding where there is a crowded markets, lots of noise and also there are lots of chanting’s bell sounds dhol or other instruments being played to invoke god. I am sure many of the ladies can actually understand their menstruating phases some times lots of sound becomes unbearable. Due to hormonal changes a lady experience lots of excitement, anxiety and different mood swings. Getting control over thoughts and feeling is very difficult. Many ladies have wired behavior which they realize but do not understand how can they bring control over it. This a natural phenomenon. In Indian culture women only is suggested to rest during menstruation and not do anything. The ritual of not going to sacred places is only a scientific approach of people from olden days who wanted to give full comfort to the menstruating lady who needs to rest and relax. This is the only reason I can understand that a girl who is not menstruating is called ‘Kumari’ and a lady post her menstruation is over can visit some sacred places. If a lady is menstruating in house it will not be discussed it will be understood that she goes in resting for 5 days. The cults those were meant to follow are having a scientific reasons or implications and not a blind faiths. To understand those we must travel back in time when those were made. Today there are much improved sanitization in most parts of world. We have all the advance equipment that help in cooking or daily household work. Challenges that ladies in olden days faced were of course difficult, but I feel that modern world challenges are different but they do exist in different ways or forms. Its an individuals choice to interpret things in your own way. Any of the ritual followed during menstrual phase just think on these story line and you will get your answers. Its all about body, mind and soul. If your body, mind and soul is perfectly fit only then you can have a better vison on seeing things and that is nothing but ‘Divya Drishti – Powerful Divine Vision’.