Written by: Aayushma Kharel - 20102, Grade XII
Posted on: 22 January, 2020
Considering females as impure, Chaupadi pratha is a tradition practiced for centuries that banishes females during their menstruation period from the house. It is primarily practiced in the western part of Nepal. This pratha basically prohibits Hindu women and girls from participating in normal family activities while menstruating. “Untouchability” a tradition it is called, forbidden from touching other people and objects, women and girls are required to live away from the community, typically in a livestock shed, during their menstruation. And their mistake was to be a girl! And go through the biological means following what nature gives was her only mistake.
And when I heard that in some cases women are instructing to live in a separate area of the house. They are forced to live in a mud hut that is hundreds of yards away. I thought it was so unfair. The pain that those young females or women go through, nobody cares about. These women when they were growing, they were told horror stories of how their fathers would become possessed if they stayed in their home during their period. They are not even allowed to touch cattle or crops at such time from fear of harming them. But they were allowed to touch other women. If contact is made with other men, it is said that one must be purified with cow urine.
Women are not even allowed to comb or wash their hair. In some areas, women are not even taught or aware of sanitary towels and so are forced to bare the “condemned” stains on their unwashed clothes. And there are many cases of women dying in this pratha suffering from respiratory diseases, malnutrition, and diarrhea. And mother “a woman” herself pressurizes her daughter to do so. When I heard that I had one question and that is “do my parents think the same way?”
I ran to my parents and asked them, what do you think of this pratha. My parents then replied even science says some negative vibrations do come out when a girl is on her period. And at that point, everybody around her should be supporting her as she suffers from irritation, the pain. I felt so lucky. My mother did say that those are our traditions and we should not allow women to touch god, but I would never be so blinded by our tradition that I would let my daughter suffer alone in the cold outside. Because I know to what extent it’s true but they don’t.
Then I realized, those women who are suffering and following this pratha don’t even know what’s true. They are just misguided by their ancestors. The young girls while growing up listening to their ancestors said they think it's their mistake. They live in fear. They feel so sorry for a natural process, that they can even give their life, even get raped and say nothing while following this pratha. But the government even put a ban on this pratha but will the girls even know that what they are doing is not necessary, it's illogical. No, they’ll not, instead, they will think the government is wrong, and keep on practicing this pratha. So, in order to stop this, we should start by educating them. There are many such kinds of tradition. This is just an example for us to not be blinded by our religions.