Menstrual taboos and myths in India

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Menstruation has been a unique phenomenon for the girls over a period of years. However, this particular topic has always been surrounded by myths and taboos in India. Why? Why is it a big deal to talk about it in front of people or with the male community of our society? We have been talking about how menstruation is a huge taboo in our country and almost turned a deaf year towards it.

What is menstruation? It is a natural reproductive cycle in which the blood from the uterus exits the body from the vagina. It is a natural process that occurs within the girls from the age group of 11-15 years. Taboos and myths about menstruation have always kept the females away from many aspects of social and cultural life. Culturally in many parts of India, menstruation is still considered to be dirty and impure.

Myths related to menstruation in India 

Stay away from the daily routine 


According to the Hindu faith, women are not allowed to participate in normal life routine while menstruating.


Pure or impure 

She must ‘purified’ before she is allowed to get back to the day to day chores of life. However, scientifically it is known that the actual cause of menstruation is ovulation followed by the missed chance of pregnancy that results in bleeding from the endometrial vessels. Therefore for me, there seems no notion to exist whether ‘pure’ and ‘are impure’.


Visiting temples or entering the kitchen

Not entering the ‘puja’ room or temples is the major restriction among the urban girls. Whereas not entering the kitchen is the main restriction seen among the rural girls. Scientifically, the reason behind the restrictions are that the body loses an excess amount of blood during menstruation, which leads to a weaker immune system compared to other days. Thus women and girls are asked to stay indoors and let their body relax during the few days of every month.

Hanna Barczyk for NPR

Maintain distance 

Menstruating women are not allowed to offer prayers and restricted from touching the holy books, all because of the underlying myths of ‘impurity’.


Food contamination 

It is further believed that menstruating women are unhygienic and unclean and hence the food they handle gets contaminated or even chances of being poisoned.


Do not touch pickles 

People also believe that during menstruation the female body emits certain rays or smell, which turns preserved food to rot. Thus, they are not allowed to touch sour foods like pickles. Whereas no scientific test has shown menstruation, as the reason for spoilage of food.


Diet restrictions 

In some parts of India, strict dietary restrictions are also followed. During menstruation, such as food like curd; pickles and tamarind are often avoided by menstruating females. Because it is believed that these food products will disturb or stop the menstrual flow.

picklescurd-pickles-tamarind-165764Sweet tamarind

Washing on the third day 

Girls during their menstruation should wash their bed sheets and clothes on the third day. They must also shampoo their hair on the third day itself. The scientific explanation is that the flow of the blood is high on the first three days; therefore it’s better to get everything cleaned.

Woman washing her hair in shower  Hand wash

Basil plant 

Basil plant is considered to be holy in the Hindu culture. Hence girls during menstruation are not allowed to touch the holy plant. They cannot let their shadows fall on the plant during this time, else the plant dies according to the belief. Whereas, science shows no such results.


Menstrual blood is different from regular blood –

Blood is blood and there is no such term called the menstrual blood or the regular blood. There’s nothing wrong with the blood during menstruation. Educate yourself before jumping to conclusions.


All these are popular Hindu myths relating to menstruation that has been down the generations. Some Hindu myths have a logical explanation behind them, but some don’t. So always judge what is right and act accordingly. Rather than blindly following the myths and carrying them from generation to generation, educate yourself and others about menstruation. These deep-rooted myths and taboos need to be eradicated from our society. There is a lot to talk about this topic. But, just talking won’t help. Stop talking and start acting wisely and in a much more sensible manner.


First; if a woman menstruates, she gets secluded and isolated from her day to day chores and even worse treated as an untouchable. Second, if she doesn’t menstruate the society calls her barren and secludes her though! What exactly is the reason behind this is still a question that is unanswered to me.


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