New Delhi: A Delhi based NGO ‘Sachhi Saheli’ that works towards raising awareness about menstruation has organised a ‘period feast’ in Delhi on Sunday (February 23). The initiative will serve food cooked by women. The ‘period feast’ has been organised in response to controversial remarks by a priest from Gujarat stating that if women cook and serve food during periods then it is a grave offense and they would be born as dogs in their next life.
While talking to NDTV about the upcoming event, Dr Surbhi Singh, a gynaecologist and founder of ‘Sachhi Saheli’ said,
I am pleased to invite all Delhiites to the ‘Period Feast’. It is a lunch event to uphold women’s menstrual dignity. It is a statement against the dogmatic traditions related to menstruation and a symbolic protest against the negativity propagated by the priest from the Swaminarayan Bhuj Mandir in Gujarat by saying that women who cook food while on their period will be reborn as dogs and people who eat food prepared by a menstruating woman even once, they become a bullock.
She said that the lunch will be held from 12 pm to 3 pm at Central Park in Pocket A, Mayur Vihar Phase II. According to her, more than 25 women have offered to cook for the feast and more than 300 people from across Delhi have confirmed their participation. The dishes will include lentils, vegetables, chapatti and sweets.
Dr. Singh further pointed out that statements made by religious leaders need to be taken very seriously especially by those who are also running academic institutions like the priest from Gujarat who is a member of the Trust that operates several schools and colleges including the college in Bhuj where 60 girls were forced to strip to prove that they were not menstruating. She said,
Schools and colleges need to play the role of myth busters and not promoters.
According to Dr. Singh, there are numerous myths related to menstruation that say that girls should stay limited to their rooms during periods, not touch the pickle, not cook, not dance, exercise or even attend school. These myths, according to Dr. Singh are still extremely prevalent in the country. She said that due to these myths, women and girls not only suffer socially and economically but their health gets impacted too to a large extent. Due to poor menstrual hygiene management and shame around menstruation, women face several health problems that may range from pain, to nausea and infections to even damage to the uterus.
However, in the last few years there has been a spurt in conversation around menstruation-related issues in mainstream media platforms. First a documentary about menstruation set in India, ‘Period. End Of Sentence.’ wins an Oscar in 2019, before that came commercial Bollywood film ‘Pad Man’ in 2018 based on the life and work of Arunachalam Muruganathan who devised a technology to make low-cost sanitary pads for women in rural areas. Even on social media platforms campaigns like #RedDotChallenge became a trend, where people were encouraged to post a photograph of themselves with a red dot on their palms and talk have a casual discourse about periods and various issues related to it. Even various state governments are working towards raising awareness about menstrual hygiene through various schemes like ‘Suvidha’, which provide sanitary napkins to girls in school and colleges.
Dr. Singh further said that people must come together and reject such a statement. According to her, Swati Maliwal, Chairperson of Delhi Commission for Women and Delhi MLA Manish Sisodia will be joining the feast to show their solidarity.