Tuesday, January 17, 2012

May the Gods Be With You. Period.

Disclaimer: This post is more of an art project than a fashion project and my apologies for the length of it too. Did not feel like editing more, as it felt important to include all of this to make a point.



















Photographer: Alison Wynn
Editing by: Prutha Raithatha

First I have to say that I didn't want to write anything at all for this post and have you guys make your own interpretations. But I feel so strongly about this topic that I decided to spell it out just incase some people missed the point. So here goes.

There is a large part of the world culture that treats women like untouchables when they have their menstrual cycle. Hindus especially. A woman is not allowed to take part in any kind of religious ceremonies for the first four days of her menstrual cycle. She can’t go to temple, do poojas, touch any idols of God or even a picture of any God and some take it as far as disallowing the woman from entering the kitchen. In a nutshell, she is ostracized. So much so that she is made to feel like a sinner if she goes against such beliefs. It is sad that even in today’s much more educated and highly technologically advanced age, this superstition just won’t die. People as liberal as my own mother will not understand that this is a ridiculous superstition to follow even after her daughters have tried time and again to explain the (ill) logic behind it.

In the olden days it had become an unspoken norm amongst society because the basic rural lifestyle required more physical strain than today as women did physical work like fetching water from the wells, cleaning the house, cooking, helping in the fields, etc. And with no painkillers or sanitary pads / tampons, this practice made perfect sense, both from the point of view of allowing the women some down time to rest, as well as from a hygiene point of view. But now times have changed and we have no reason to keep following this ritual. Yet we do. I know a huge population of people my own age and younger who blindly follow this and believe and promote it. It embarrasses me to know how many people I grew up with back home will not use their brains to stop following such superstitions of the fear of having to battle their moms and aunts, or they believe that God will punish them if they do.

The trick is to just ignore. You don’t have to announce that you have your period to the world and just do your thing. If you’re reluctant about inviting God’s wrath if you don’t follow this superstition, I can attest to you in full guarantee that I have broken this rule all my life and my life has turned out to be A-OK!! God did not punish me. People’s homes were not any more polluted than they were before I went to their places for poojas [prayer services] during my menstrual cycle and when asked if I did have my period on such occasions, yes I have lied through my teeth and felt no fucking remorse for doing so. Infact I always felt myself laughing at them in my mind. Anyway the point is that my life turned out to be just fine, infact spectacular!

So please, can we really stop this stupidity now! It just seems too fucking ridiculous to accept that this still exists. I know how strong the pressures of Indian society are and I know it’s not easy, I swear I do. But for God’s sake try. And if you don’t have the balls to stand up against this just make a pledge right now to not ever pass it on to your daughters. This goes to all the men too!! You guys are equal party to this nonsense by never standing up for your wives against your moms. Atleast try to protect the women around you from the world that will give them the evil eye for not following such blind faith, but if you can’t, just your approval will be enough for them to know that they are not doing anything wrong. I am sure once they understand that their spouse/ father has their back, they will fight their own battles and win easily.

Notes: Thank you Alison soo soo much for taking such fantastic pictures for my project. Thanks Wayne for the incredible abandoned elementary school location! And thank you all, whoever reads my blog. I don’t want to live a life of non-existence. I want to make a difference in the world even if it is in some small form. This I am hoping is a small form. Each image here speaks volumes to me. It has immense capacity for dialogue. I hope you enjoy the experience.

58 comments:

  1. the post is a classic..u really have guts to bring about an awareness in this direction..Salute! im a victim too but believe its not gonna get carried on to my kids..love u prutha..keep up! :)

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  2. I am just plain speechless... I have been fighting this superstition all my effing life, couldn't be bothered. This is amazing! THANK YOU!!

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  3. Its for each one of us to break the shackles of these rudimentary and archaic traditions.. and some of us are doing it in our own ways... I have found a mid way for this...when i am with my Mom or Mom in law.. i follow it.. the extent to which it is followed in my household is very mild...there is no debarment from anything except touching the idols.. and i dont want to touch them anyways cause i am not the devout one ....i follow what they want me to cause both my moms believe in it and i dont want to upset them...they have grown up accepting and following these traditions however pathetic they may be and i dont see the point in trying to change it after 50 years for them...in their own way they have rebelled against this ..in their age their moms and MILs made them take a shower even if your periods started in the dead of the night ... but neither of them insist i do so...
    when am on my own, i dont think i am any different on these days... i function normally... i dont believe a lot in going to places of worship so it doesnt bother me anyways... but i know that my daughter will grow up neutral to these things.. generation by generation we are cleaning up these malices from between ourselves.. but things are different in rural India..and it will take time, long long time !!

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  4. ohh the most imp point that missed above... your writeup is good but the pictures are fucking brilliant !!! Claps Claps !!

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  5. u r awesomeness personified!

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  6. What a fabulous post Prutha! Was trying to comment on your blog but the window wouldn't open and I just had to say something. I love the point you have brought out. Although, being a Sikh we are not forbidden from entering the Gurdwara or praying or touching anything during our period, I have grown up with my mom telling me that although I can go to the Gurdwara I should stay away from temples and Ganpati festivals etc duuring my period. But I loved the Ganpati festivities and fun and as luck woould have it, I would get my perios around that time (its an 11-day celebration) but I would simple do my thing (it wasn't like anyone came checking) because I refused to believe that I was polluted. I also figured, if one God allowed it, the others must be chill with it too :)

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  7. Absolutely fabulous and so so brave. Very simple but relevant theme too especially because Indian superstition is so bullheaded. I actually tried taking pills to bring my period forward to not clash with my wedding. It was for physical convenience mostly but also to avoid this illogical superstition. But then j forgot to take the pills on time and got my periods a few days before the wedding and finished just a day before. While I was glad of that coz I didn't want cramps et al o. My wedding day I was fully prepared to brazen it out in case the period spilled over (pun intended)! Bravura work on this post, very proud of toh for stretching the boundaries of art so persuasively. The Krishna pose the most poignant pic

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  8. Amazing post!!! Although I haven't personally faced this situation, I know many who have. It makes no sense for you to be excluded from any worship of the very Being who has created you with this phenomenon (for want of a better word). I'm going to share this, and hopefully some people will see sense. Kudos!!

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  9. WOW, some of these photos are really perfect!

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  10. Amazing and very very logical....seeing my mom 'ostracized' pissed me no end....well i m certainly not going to pass this stupid and irrelevant practice to my would be daughter or daughter in law and certainly my would be wife....cheerio!! :D

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  11. This is SO well done. SO FUCKING WELL DONE! :O
    I love every bit of it and you are so beautiful !

    www.arty-heart.blogspot.com

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  12. WOOOOOOOOOW!!! Fucking great photoshoot! *_*

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  13. The pictures are brilliant to say the least, and what you said is absolutely true.
    P. S. You have lovely eyes.

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  15. The depiction of the whole concept through the photographs is just too amazing !

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  16. I'm speechless! EVERY bit of this of this post makes so much sense and is SO brilliant!

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  17. THIS IS OUT OF THE WORLD, Prutha! Absolutely BRILLIANT!!!! I too am speechless.

    ♡ from © tanvii.com

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  18. The images are so beautiful, and provocative--I think you achieved your goal.

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  19. Brilliant pictures and a topic that is seldom discussed or written about. I belong to the same school of thought and infact even practice it. I go to temples, religious functions - anywhere, whether in cycle or not.
    But i have to admit, it was my grandmom - who was way too modern for her time, who told me the exact same thing that you have posted. She encouraged us not to follow anything blindly, but understand why these rules were put in place in those ages.
    We need more women flag bearers, who will help other women understand that the menstrual cycle is natural and god given, not something to be shunned.

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  20. Brilliant work of art! I wish everyone could respect women the way they should be

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  21. omfg babyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! this is MAJOR! MAJOOORRR!!!!!!!! i love u

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  22. So much was said without having to say it, and then some more. I did read your text and felt your passion Needless to say, most of us have experienced similar situations growing up (in India).
    Before I read your text however, I even saw this post in the light of the issue of virginity. The idea of pure, religion, the sin of sex, virginal white dress, first time red and so on. Art is powerful in that it sometimes evokes more than the artist intended!?

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  23. This is something!! Great photoshoot.

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  24. Oh wow.

    Initially I was going to comment "what an incredible series of pictures". And then I read your words. I'm so glad you decided to include them because it explained the images in a way I didn't see before. But not only that, it's educated me about something I had no idea existed.

    So, thank you. For every part of this post.

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  25. I LOVED this. I knew exactly what you were going for when I saw that first photo. Art is so powerful.

    This is a topic quite close to my heart, because like you I have tried explaining this to people time and time again. My own mother follows this blindly, even after not having lived in India for more than 25 years. She passed that down to my sister and me and I refused to go along with it way back when I was a teenager (haha always the rebel :P).

    Women are not impure or unclean because of their menstrual cycle. In fact, it's the tangible evidence that women are able to perform the miracle of birth and life. So why should we be punished for a innate natural biological function?

    I think it has a little to do with India's obsession with women's sexuality and morality. Women are put on pedestals, worshipped like devis and God forbid any evidence of humanity be shown. It's the classic Madonna-Whore complex - either we're goddesses (Or sisters. Or mothers) or we are whores (half of which is blamed on the West).

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this. You are GORGEOUS!

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  26. BRILLIANT PICTURES & VERY WELL WRITTEN PRUTHA!
    I RESPECT YOU FOR THIS! SALUTE!

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  27. Firstly, Don't ever lie about something as beautiful as that. Lying about your period is as good as allowing the differentiation. You don't believe the ridiculous superstition, say it and let them deal with it.
    Secondly, respect for others views and upholding your own views is the toughest decision we all make in our lives. Am saying.
    Thirdly, BRAVO! It was an incredible interpretation. Very disturbing, but fantastic blend of contrasts. I believe now, that I know a genius. In this lifetime.

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  28. Awesome! cant expect anything less than awesomeness from you anyways .. :)

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  29. Once I was stepping into a Church.. my family does not worship Idols.. we believe in the Nirankara form of God.. While I was entering the Church.. One thot struck my mind.. I was down and I asked my friend if she would mind my entering the Church or is it considered a sin there too.. She told me God has given you this.. Your body has been made like this.. You reproduce because of this and you should thank God and not be sad about this.. Ever since I wanted more n more people to know what the truth is.. I cannot write my feelings but had I been there I would have hugged you and told you that what you've done is .. :-)

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  30. This is brilliant! I totally agree that there was a reason in the past for this practice but now it is just illogical to stick with. Yes if you need to rest, do avoid taking part in various activities, but that should be the woman's prerogative!

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  31. Prutha, Awesome awesome post. I am sooo proud of you honey!!!
    For those of you who don’t know me- I am Hetal, Prutha's sister and many times referred to as her "surrogate" mom in the US :) It is indeed sad and true that such behavior still exists in modern India and I am very happy that Prutha has done this post to highlight this issue to all of you. For those of you who still follow this practice or are forced to follow it, please stand up for yourself and denounce it.
    Thanks.

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  32. Just amazing thought and idea. The best part is that you made it very clear and easy to understand how and what it is. Had I been there, I would have hugged you, uhh sorry I would have asked my girlfriend to do the same but :P. Jokes apart, Hats off

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  33. What a presentation.. and loved ur reasoning! keep it coming..
    Love,
    Suman

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  34. You have created a work of art with a social message. The post and photos are of such high quality that it could easily be an exhibit at the MOMA!! The photos clearly depict the message of your blog....expressive, thought-provoking and daring!!!! Brava!!

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  35. Great and bold article. Bold is for the art. Women have been breaking the shackles slowly in their own ways. I remember my mother breaking it in during her days and I have gone bit further than she. But these things are like old habits and "when you are in rome.." or "go with the crowd" kind of a thing. Women in nuclear family either in India or abroad lead a different lifestyle and follow a convenient routine as opposed to those who live with their parents-in-law. Pretty hard to break with "elders" in the house.The best thing we can to do break it completely is NOT to pass on these insane practices to our daughters. That is the only way we can eradicate the bug completely. To them "Ignorance would be Bliss".

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  36. Appreciate the social message you have put across us…in the most impactful manner and provoked to think hard.
    Loved the overall frames you have created with apt combination of colors...They are bold and most sought after.
    I have been through these situations and in one of my childhood days I remember I had gone to visit my grandma in the village just cause I touched my aunt who was going through periods who was anyways deserted in one corner of the house..even I was punished for one day just cause I hugged her…fortunately over the time we all have librated and don’t face any such issues…
    Still totally agree with you that it’s the most illogical ritual which needs to be untouchable in today’s times rather than treating the woman as untouchable during her periods.
    Its really ironic to see that in way we call ourselves so called modern on our outer appearance but unfortunately still rigid and superstitious in our thoughts.
    This certainly needs to be stopped….
    Another interpretation of the art shoot for me was the subject of virginity vis-à-vis purity.
    For some cynical mentality of people even today woman in India have to prove / store their so called virginity and keep proving themselves as clean and pure…
    How rude possibly it could be that just because a woman doesn’t bleed on their first intercourse she is stamped as impure person with sins …though we all know scientifically too that it’s not necessary
    …although the hypocritical society accepts all men to screw woman around which unfortunately sometimes they consider as their pride???
    Why woman has to always keep proving herself… we keep saying may be god be with you always …though even goddess Seeta had to go through fire to prove her sanity…hope someday we all grow up and broaden our thinking….

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  37. Prutha..Awsome stuff...u voiced sum thing that I have been arguing with all my frnds,family,colleagues over these years...I mean..there is simply no logic to all this stuff....I mean u say GOd will punish u..but hasn't god installed it in our system...why the hell wud he punish us....I mean...even till this date..Women who call themselves highly educated abide to this crap.and u just get labeled as argumentative or atheist if u argue with such morons...Thanks once again and brilliant work!!!!

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  38. Your life turned out to be spectacular because you are spectacular. And you are making a difference in your own way. Through the medium of art. :]

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  39. Photo by photo, the first one is my favorite (obvious topic set aside). As an art project, this is powerful; most things that stem from a personal "thing" turn out to have more of an intensity.
    When I lived in France, I discovered that the the men are traditionally the makers of Aioli. The reason behind this: the ingredients don't set right when mixed by a woman. How stupid is that?

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  40. Holy dope Prutha!
    I hope every Indian woman, who is forced to follow such ridiculous, ostentatious regime wakes up and realises, that she has to fight for herself. No woman has to feel a victim! Get out. I have fought against it. I feel like I have won the battle!
    Kayc

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  41. This is fucking awesome...loved every bit of it..i have been a victim too..i did not have to follow this stupidity at my mom's place but my in-laws follow it to the T. forget touching idols you can't even touch other family members!! I was scandalized at the start but then I worked it in my favor. I don't follow any of these rules in my room which has an attached kitchen (of course common kitchen is out of bounds!!)and not cooking or working in the common area of house helps me relax after a tiring day at office.

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  42. WOW! I just came across your blog and as i was scrolling down.. I couldn't help but notice this post. BRILLIANT. After every sentence I would go like 'That's what I would tell my friends'. Fortunately my family would not believe in all this and hence I didn't go through it myself:) But I saw my friends family practicing this superstition. First I was shocked, and when I asked my friend about this, She said its been happening since my grand mom's generation. Its sad that they don't want to change it after knowing that its wrong.

    I started blogging a month back. Hope you visit my blog:)

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  43. Abso-fucking-lutely.

    I've never had to face this myself but my mom did. It's disgusting and this bug has gotta go.

    Aditi,
    www.mysartorialsecrets.blogspot.in

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  44. Strongly Stand behind you..!!

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  45. m so moved !!! amazin concept....m a fan already! love the paper cut bugs, the bright plus contrast hues. ur message is so clearly there...cud have done without d write up....a visual feast.

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  46. Wow...This is so freaking brilliant Prutha ! Hats off ! We are standing to applaud !

    Love,

    Bong's Belleza

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  47. I am glad you posted on this. I've also lied through the teeth on many occasions and had a fight with my mom too, on the issue. Good work!

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