Do You Know Of This Custom That Celebrates Menstruation?
- JWB Post
- September 3, 2015
All of us women have more than once witnessed the ‘side-effects’ of menstruation. And I am not referring to the agonizing cramps or the wayward mood swings. Also, I am not referring to the multiple rounds of washing our stained clothes/bed sheets to get rid of the blood blots.
But hail O womankind! There is a not-so-far-away land where menstruation and womanhood are celebrated!
Forgive me for being too dramatic. But hey! My excitement is justified! There exists an ancient festival in Odisha called ‘Rajaswala’ (meaning menstruating woman) which celebrates menstruation as a process. Spread over three days in the month of June, this custom personifies Earth as a mother and regards womanhood as a blessing.
The underlying logic beneath this custom is comparing a woman’s body, her uterus specifically, to the earth’s preparation of bearing crops. Just as the land on earth is slashed and trimmed for the new season of harvest, the eggs in a woman’s uterus are cleansed for the production of new ones.
And if you’re thinking that only women participate in this festival, you’re wrong my friend! Men engage in the festivities with equal zeal and vigor. Homes are decorated with flowers and swings are created. People refrain from all agricultural activities because they believe that it is the time when mother earth is on her period and she shouldn’t be hurt. The fourth day of the festivities signifies the end of mother earth’s menstruation and people expect heavy rains on what is referred to as the Vasumati Gadhua.
Whoa! This is intriguing stuff. But what’s more interesting is the fact that this festival finds its roots back in the tribal times when sprinkling period blood was symbolized as a life force, as a part of a tantric practice.
In a time where women are clawed up in the shackles of a lot of stereotypes and taboos, this fascinating festival comes across as a breath of fresh air. We definitely need more of such practices which praise and cherish women. The Raja festival leads me to believe that this wish of ours has the scope of coming true. Tell us your views.