India’s menstruation festival ‘Maasika Mahotsav’ aims at breaking stereotypes

They can’t enter the temple because they are considered impure. They are asked to sit and eat separately. They can’t water the plants; there’s a chance the flowers might die. A woman is regarded as an untouchable when she is menstruating in many parts of India even today.

In a bid to change the mindset of people surrounding menstruation and breaking stereotypes, the third edition of an annual festival ‘Maasika Mahotsav’ is being held between May 19 to May 28. The festival is set to take place in nine states across India including Maharashtra, Karnataka, Sikkim, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Assam, Madhya Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

The festival aims to create awareness about hygiene and clear taboos surrounding menstruation by educating people and engaging them with culture, music and art.

“The idea is to normalise the discussion around periods. Some states in India celebrate menstruation. The festival, too, will celebrate the reason for our birth,” says 27-year-old Nishant Bangera, founder of the NGO and curator of the festival.

Art, music, theatre and cultural activities help in promoting and normalizing menstruation. They will be promoting cloth pads and menstrual cups and teach women about hygienic practices.

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In Uttar Pradesh, women of around 10 villages will come together to organise and participate in a march. In Gujarat, women will use the medium of trains to create awareness. Women are creating artwork with fake blood in Nepal and doing cultural programs in Maharashtra’s villages. At WeWork in Mumbai, a ‘period party’ is on the cards with a panel discussion.

There are women who cannot afford sanitary napkins and use a cloth or are forced to continue wearing the same pad for an entire day. This leads to many infections and poor even fatal diseases as they don’t speak up. Many taboos around menstruation still continue to exist like women cannot enter temples during their cycle and they have to eat separately and stay in the outhouse. Women’s bodies are considered impure and the festival aims at changing the mindset of people surrounding menstruation.

 

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