Menstruation is not exactly the most talked about topic in our country. In fact, it is so taboo that women are embarrassed to talk about the problems they face when they’re on their periods and men pretend like they didn’t hear anything even if it’s shouted at the top of our lungs.
Apart from awareness, there are so many myths associated with periods - a woman should not touch a pickle, should not cook food for the family, should keep herself hidden from the society and the most followed one of all - Should not enter a temple because a menstruating woman is “impure”.
In times like this, wouldn’t it be refreshing and frankly shocking to hear that a small temple in Chengannur, Kerala celebrates their ‘menstruating Goddess’? No, you didn’t read that wrong. They believe that their goddess menstruates and when she does, it’s nothing short of a festival for the villagers. The Parvati idol that is present in the temple is said to menstruate 3 to 4 times in a year and during this period a festival called as Thriputh Aarattu is celebrated. The legend goes that Shiva and Parvati visited Sage Agasthya as a couple after their marriage because he wasn’t able to attend their wedding. And during their visit, Parvati was said to have gotten her periods. To mark this time, the temple and the idol was said to have been built. But legend aside, let’s talk about what’s happening in the temple in our time.
The head or the supreme priest checks the goddess clothes every day for stains and if he finds anything, the piece of cloth is given for further inspection to the senior woman, wife of the supreme priest. Once she confirms that it is a period blood stain then the temple authorities announce Thirupth Aarattu. It was said that the goddess used to menstruate on a monthly basis a few years ago but now this rare sight is not seen more than 4 times a year. The villagers rejoice during this time because they believe that the goddess is the most powerful in this period and will answer all their prayers. People facing infertility issues, irregular periods and any other health-related issues travel far and wide to have darshan. The inner skirt or the udayada of the goddess is auctioned off to the highest bidder as people believe that this holy cloth will bring peace and prosperity for them.
You might be thinking about the science behind this whole phenomenon but we’re trying to focus more on the attitude of the human beings. In a country where periods are looked down upon, there is a whole village of people who talk about menstruation like you would about any other topic.
And this is not the only place like this, there is another menstruating goddess temple in Nilachal hill, Assam. A temple in Andhra Pradesh, Devipuram has a naturally formed stone structure that looks like a vagina. It is called as kamakya yoni and the priests here that perform rituals are all women.
The Guru who built the temple believes that when a woman is asked to not enter a temple when she’s on her periods because she’s impure, someone needs to explain as to how this myth came about. It was believed in the olden days that women are highly sensitive to any sort of energy around them during that time of the month and they themselves emit a lot of energy. Since the energy in a temple is highly powerful, it might interact with the woman’s energy and cause her discomfort. So, a woman has a choice to make to visit the temple or to not. It depends on the individual and you don’t need to follow anything blindly.