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Menstrual health

Maasika Mahotsav: Celebrating Menstruation And Empowering Women

Meet Nishant Bangera, a Mumbaikar, who has been educating women about menstrual health and hygiene

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मासिक महोत्सव: वर्जनाओं को तोड़ते हुए मासिक धर्म का जश्न मनाना और महिलाओं को शिक्षित करना
'Massika Mahotsav' that started in three states, has now spread to 10 states and 10 countries

New Delhi: He has no experience of what a woman goes through during her periods. He does not know what those five days feel like to a woman’s body – the constant pressure as if carrying a heavy backpack all the time, the stabbing pain like a pinching clothespin Well, how would he know? He’s a he! Forget men, no one talks about it even to women leading to negligence in hygiene and … this is exactly what led him, Nishant Bangera to start Muse, as he refuses to let the subject be cloaked by secrecy and shame.

The 32-year-old founded Muse ten years ago to educate women about menstruation and sustainable menstrual practices and encourage them to talk about periods openly . Muse means to think, said Nishant. He further said,

If we can mark someone’s birthday, why not acknowledge the reason they were born?

Also Read: Four Youngsters From Kashmir Work For Menstrual Health And Hygiene Among Rural Girls

Not only this, the Muse Foundation also works towards encouraging sustainable menstrual practices, through its programme ‘A Period of Sharing’.

The women he educates belong to the economically backward communities, living in shanties in Mumbai, Thane and Pune along with the college students. The batch he and his team educates is a mix of both menstruators and non-menstruators and the students are equally eager to learn about menstruation.

Maasika Mahotsav: Celebrating Menstruation And Empowering Women

Muse Foundation conducting menstrual health and hygiene session at a school

Nishant explained how he connected with the women living in the slum areas,

The idea was to reach out to the women through Non Government Organisations (NGOs). My team and I would identify a community and the NGO working in the respective city, would reach out to them to connect with the women.

When his NGO started the programme, Nishant realised that just sharing technical information would not resolve the issue of period health and get women to talk about it and embrace it.

To make it possible, he launched ‘Maasika Mahotsav’ (menstruation festival), which aims at celebrating periods. It’s an extension of A Period Of Sharing campaign. The festival entered its third year this year. ‘Maasika Mahotsav’ is a week-long event.

Also Read: Wombs Or Livelihoods? Dilemma For Women In Maharashtra’s Beed

Women are engaged through a host of activities, from dance, music, graffiti, kavi sammelan, and more. Additionally, the foundation conducts workshops and games associated with menstrual health and hygiene, cultural activities, and panel discussions with experts on menstruation.

Maasika Mahotsav: Celebrating Menstruation And Empowering Women

‘Maasika Mahotsav’ conducted in 2023 on Menstrual Health Day

The festival that started in three states, has now spread to 10 states and 10 countries.

Suman is one of several women from Pune who attend Maasika Mahotsav every year. She cannot express enough her happiness to be a part of such an event. Talking about her experience, she said,

I have learnt so much about my body through this engagement. I knew nothing about the biological explanation of menstruation and the adequate ways of managing it. I could not explain it to my daughters. Their schools did not fill this gap either. Maasik Mahotsav changed that. I ensured my daughters are educated about the changes happening in their body and educate my son as well about menstruation. I look forward to attending it this year.

Not only Suman will be attending the festival, but her husband, her son and two daughters, as they have been for the past two years.

Talking about his future plans, Nishant said that he will continue to embrace openness about periods to promote understanding, support to women who are still living with the taboo, and are perceived as dirty, impure and even unholy.

Maasika Mahotsav: Celebrating Menstruation And Empowering Women

Next stop for Nishant is to turn ‘Maasika Mahotsav’ into a national festival and eventually take the concept to more countries.

Also Read: Lack Of Menstrual Hygiene Management Facilities At Schools Causes Girls’ Absenteeism, Shows A Study Conducted In 14 Districts

NDTV – Dettol have been working towards a clean and healthy India since 2014 via the Banega Swachh India initiative, which in its Season 10 is helmed by Campaign Ambassador Ayushmann Khurrana. The campaign aims to highlight the inter-dependency of humans and the environment, and of humans on one another with the focus on One Health, One Planet, One Future – Leaving No One Behind. It stresses on the need to take care of, and consider, everyone’s health in India – especially vulnerable communities – the LGBTQ populationindigenous people, India’s different tribes, ethnic and linguistic minorities, people with disabilities, migrants, geographically remote populations, gender and sexual minorities. In a world post COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign will continue to raise awareness on the same along with focussing on the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children, fight malnutrition, mental well-being, self-care, science and health, adolescent health & gender awareness. Along with the health of people, the campaign has realised the need to also take care of the health of the eco-system. Our environment is fragile due to human activity, which is not only over-exploiting available resources, but also generating immense pollution as a result of using and extracting those resources. The imbalance has also led to immense biodiversity loss that has caused one of the biggest threats to human survival – climate change. It has now been described as a “code red for humanity.” The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene. Banega Swasth India will also be taking forward the dream of Swasth Bharat, the campaign feels that only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and the country can become a Swasth or healthy India.

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