Apart from many superstitions that plague our country, India too has a notion of impurity attached to the natural phenomenon of menstruation. Several communities still have archaic mindset when a woman goes through her period of menstruation and resolve to different kinds of don’ts during the period a woman goes through it. It could range from not being allowed in the kitchen, sleeping on the floor to not washing hair and specifically not going into a temple or saying daily prayers.
However, good news is, Odhisa celebrates this biological cycle which otherwise is a taboo in many a state. The Mithuna Sankranti, a three-day celebration during mid June inaugurates and welcomes the agricultural year all over Odhisha. It is believed that ‘Bhudevi’, or Goddess of earth who also happens to be the wife of Lord Vishnu undergoes menstruation during the first three days. Through biological symbolism, it celebrates the moistening of the soil by the first drops of monsoon rains thus preparing the soil for productivity.
During these three days, women are given a break from their daily household chores. No agricultural work takes place. Girls wear new clothes and deck themselves with fresh flowers, adorn their feet with Aalta. Significance of Alta is that it resembles blood, symbolic of fertility and prosperity. During these days decorated swings are hung on tree branches for the women and girls to swing.
It is time we all learn to celebrate the great gift of fertility.
By: Madhuchanda Saxena