Menstruation taboo in Hindu Dharma: Can I go to temple while having periods?
Uday sir, I can participate in pooja (offering to deity) while menstruating? Is it a sin to have periods? Does it create any negative energy or vibes? Why did our ancestors prevent us from going to temple during menstruation? Is there any scientific, scriptural backing to support picturing the menstrual cycle as taboo?
Menstruation is a normal, natural phenomenon or process of change in the physiological system in the female body. According to our Dharma, everything in this universe is divine. Hence it’s also divine and the presence of God exists in even menstruating blood.
Having said that, if I were a woman, I wouldn’t go to temple or attend puja during periods. The reason is NOT scriptural or scientific, it is just common sense.
As you know, Vedic scriptures respect women. To best of my knowledge, Vedic traditions do not see menstruation as taboo. I think Vedas are not talking about this subject. There were no restrictions on women to perform rituals. Or at least I never came across a passage which is saying woman’s body is impure or that she cannot do poojas during menstruation.
On the contrary, Vedas hail women.
“Moon gave them (women) purification; the Gandharva, sweet speech; Agni, perfect purity; therefore verily women are always pure.”(Yajnavalkaya Smriti).
“According to the law women cannot be contaminated. They never become (entirely) foul, though month by month they face temporary uncleanness.” (Vashistha Dharmasutra).
Agamas also hail women. Shaktagamic says menstruation is NOT inauspicious or impure. It is actually celebrated and also considered embodiment of auspiciousness/sanctity.
In Tantric tradition, the menstrual discharge is looked upon as something very powerful and divine (Matrikabheda Tantra).
However, some unimportant Smritis and Shastras that came at a later period talk about Menstruation as taboo. I do not know its authenticity. For example, part of Bhavishya Purana was compiled with the patronage of Mughals hence it cannot be an authentic text for Sanatan Dharma.
Yes, Puranas (fact plus fiction) and Bhagavatam talk about menstruation. There is a story of India (King of Gods) killing a knowledgeable person (in Sanskrit Brahmin) hence committing Brahma Hatya (killing a Brahmin named Viśvarūpa) which is considered as Sin. Even a God has to face consequences of the wrong Karma. But, the women folk came to rescue by sharing the bad karma. It says: “As a result of those reactions, women manifest the signs of menstruation every month. However, in return to their kindness, women would be able to enjoy lusty desires continuously, even during pregnancy for as long as sex is not injurious to the embryo.”
There is NO scientific evidence about the so-called negative energy or any such vibes. The only energy – cosmos or Brahmam – is neutral. Human mind, based on conditioning, see things as positive or negative, depending upon their convictions that are not objective.
However, traditionally, during the three days of Menstruation, women are given a break from household work and time to take rest. During mensuration, women are not allowed to do anything. Why? Because it is not right to ask a those who are already in “Pain” to work. Like many other precedence in Hinduism, to instill discipline (read fear), some of our ancestors may have added salt and pepper.
Personally, I follow traditions. I don’t need any scientific explanation to follow my beliefs and traditions. While we went for a long drive in USA, I was wearing a Dungaree shorts, SeeandWear and Nike. I didn’t feel like going inside a temple on the way. Why? When I go to temple, I prefer to wear dhoti and remove shirt. I am used to take bath, put on traditional sandal paste marks when I go to temple or perform rituals. That’s my traditions. That tradition should define us.
Traditionally, no women from my family go to temple or perform pooja during menstruation. Why would anybody wants to change it? If you say it is just superstition, well, even God is also just a belief.
Now, coming to common sense: The saliva in your mouth contains many important substances, including electrolytes, mucus, antibacterial compounds and various enzymes. What would you do if it falls in your hand? Would you prefer to go to temple or office with the spit in your hand?
You always carry urine and stool inside your body. But once it comes out, why do you clean those body parts? Why don’t you urinate in your office chair or in the front drawing room? Or why don’t you keep the commode near your dining table? To urinate and defecate are natural, normal process right?
Sweat itself does not in fact smell. The smell of body odour comes from normal skin bacteria breaking down the sweat secretions released from the sweat glands – it is different in different people. Why would you want to clean yourself when you sweat?
Similarly, menstruation blood may be pure, but when it comes out, bacteria attack it. The blood flow is continuous for three days, at least. Unlike spit, urine or stool, it would not be over even if you clean or take bath. It would still come out which is not in your control, for three days. So, normally a traditionally thinking woman won’t feel comfortable during period.
Avoiding temples and rituals during menstruation is a discretion based on pure common sense.
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