As in many countries around the world, religions in India have strict beliefs and policies about what a woman can and cannot do while on her period. An article from NPR explaining the resistance of some women to such tradition explains that many Hindu temples bar women who are menstruating — even the Kamakhya temple in Assam, which celebrates fertility and menstruation. Sabarimala, a temple in Kerala, bans women aged 10 to 50 (reproductive age) because its deity shunned bodily desire and, when asked in November when the ban would be lifted, head of the board Prayar Gopalakrishnan said, “The day there will be a machine to detect if it’s the ‘right time’ for women to enter temples, that day they will be allowed in Sabrimala.”
Activist Nikita Azad didn’t take lightly to his comments, writing an open letter and and taking to Twitter about it.
Who gave somebody the right to decide what I do with my blood? #HappyToBleed
— Nikita Azad (@Nikita_azad) November 23, 2015
Other women joined in, attesting that periods don’t make for impure women.
— Miah Mimi (@AProudHuman143) December 4, 2015
— Binti International (@binti_period) November 29, 2015
— मङ्गलम् (@veejaysai) November 29, 2015
The concept of impurity and the prohibition of women in temples likely began in the middle ages, NPR explains. Khevana Desai, an assistant professor of sociology at Mithibai College in Mumbai, said it was likely a way to keep upper-class priests in a position of power. “I think the patriarchy added the idea of impurity as a way of reinforcing their supremacy,” Desai said.
Read the full story at NPR.