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Why are menstruating women (at least in the Brahmin community) asked to be separate from the family for three days?


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I am just curious for what religious reasons there might have been. In certain sects of Hinduism, women are asked to not enter the kitchen, eat and sleep separately from the rest of the family, not enter temples, etc. when they are menstruating. One obvious reason may have been sanitary reasons, but it is still followed in 2014 when it is no longer a reason. Are there any other, religious reasons for this?

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I have no idea, but I think that quite a few of religious traditions come from practical issues, which of course today seem not to be needed. For example Jewish people have rules about eating shellfish.

 

"These you may eat of all that are in the waters; all that have fins and scales, you may eat.

 

But whatever does not have fins and scales, you shall not eat; it is unclean for you."

 

Now I imagine that shellfish goes off quickly in the desert and could be quite poisonous. The practical rules of being careful and avoiding shellfish became religious law.

 

I would think something similar for the case you ask about. Well, you even suggest so.

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From what I've read in the past, it's just a long-entrenched taboo that during this time women are dirty and should be avoided until they are finished. The sad fact is that the covert behaviours Indian women have to go through to deal with it means that their personal hygiene routines are likely much less than optimal which reinforces the idea that they are dirty.

 

 

In India, there is generally a silence around the issue of women's health - especially around menstruation. A deep-rooted taboo feeds into the risible myth-making around menstruation: women are impure, filthy, sick and even cursed during their period.

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-29727875

Edited by StringJunky
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From what I've read in the past, it's just a long-entrenched taboo that during this time women are dirty and should be avoided until they are finished. The sad fact is that the covert behaviours Indian women have to go through to deal with it means that their personal hygiene routines are likely much less than optimal which reinforces the idea that they are dirty.

 

 

Further to AJB's comments let us not pretend that this is a local phenomenon; I know people in the UK (brought up in a liberal and only vaguely X'ian background) who still referred to menstruation as "the curse".

 

Even though I have no proof it stinks of a patriarchal society / religion using the praxis, language, and taboos of the community to reinforce the power structure of male-dominance and female-subjugation.

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Further to AJB's comments let us not pretend that this is a local phenomenon; I know people in the UK (brought up in a liberal and only vaguely X'ian background) who still referred to menstruation as "the curse".

 

Even though I have no proof it stinks of a patriarchal society / religion using the praxis, language, and taboos of the community to reinforce the power structure of male-dominance and female-subjugation.

The OP was referring to Indian culture and my answer was specific to that but it is, as you say, manifest elsewhere. A lot of it and religious customs as well seems to stem from the collective male desire to keep women down a peg or two I agree.

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