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Our attitude towards old world customs – Isn’t it high time to change?

September 2, 2011

Writer – Bhavia Velayudhan

I get to spend little time to with my family. So when I visited them this time for a change, it was a celebration. But even through such happiness, something bothered me. I was at an uncle’s house, and I noticed that somebody is missing – my aunt. When I asked for her, I was told that I couldn’t meet her . Assuming, she was sick, I rushed into the bedroom and saw that the door was locked from the outside.

She has her period now. Don’t go inside or touch her,’ her mother-in-law warned me.

So who cooked lunch?’ I asked.

‘It was bought outside as she is not allowed to enter the kitchen.’ she replied.

I was fuming. In the 21st century, why do people still allow this kind of untouchability? When my aunt opened the door, we felt as if we were talking at a conflict border. While snacks were served to me, her mother-in-law brought in some snacks and threw the bowl on her bed. I asked my aunt why she wouldn’t  talk about this to my uncle, and was surprised at what she said.

It is considered inauspicious. He is the same too. I sleep in a different room for 7 days. I should wake up early to bathe so that my husband and mother-in-law don’t see me. They keep food at my door with water. If I walk through the verandah, then I have to clean the way I walked. I feel so tired during these days, so why do the extra work? So I simply sit in the room for a week.

I didn’t know how to console her. She said that she was used to this custom; she felt bad when she felt really sick and that her husband didn’t care too much as he could not touch her on those days. I couldn’t digest what I saw and what I heard. On my return, I thought about it over and over again. If my husband were not well, would I ever put him in a room? I would try to stay next to him so that my physical and emotional presence will soothe the illness. But why would anyone put a woman in another room and treat her like a pet?

I told my mum about the incident when I got home. Being a sensible woman who takes the effort to see things practically, she told me that it was the same when she was a child. But since her older brother was educated, these practices were not followed. The actual intention behind this custom was that in those days, it was the woman who took care of the household. When a woman got her period, it was common to ask her to rest for that week and provide her food. It was over the years that people changed this custom, making believe it was inauspicious.

I ask, isn’t it high time to change these beliefs and customs?

Bhavia is a Computer Science & Engineering graduate  from NIT, Trichy, and currently works as a Business Analyst at CSC India. She is an active member of Toastmasters. An avid reader and a blogger, her blog can be read here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 2, 2011 7:43 am

    This custom probably came about in the era of no sanitary napkins, hence it was unhygienic. It makes sense then, when women had no way of keeping clean when they were menstruating, but now that we can, I don’t see the “inauspiciousness” of it. I’ve seen this happen with a friend of mine, I was appalled and well, she never questioned it either. I guess it depends on each person and how they choose to let rituals govern their lives.

    Seems to me that women don’t have a choice but grin and bear a lot of things in life.

  2. September 4, 2011 3:12 am

    There will always be people who enforce such abhorrent customs as long as people are willing to tolerate it…..the only way out is to stop putting up with it.

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