After a Bhuj College forced women students to strip to prove that they weren't menstruating, a Delhi NGO responded by organizing a "Period Feast" prepared solely by women who were menstruating in Block A Central Park Mayur Vihar on Sunday. A total of 28 women were deliberately chosen to cook the food as a response to a controversial statement made by Swami Krushnaswarup Dasji who said, "If a menstruating woman cooks food for her husband, she will definitely be born as a female dog in her next life".
The godman is part of the Swaminarayan Temple which runs the college in Gujarat's Bhuj whose staff reportedly forced more than 60 girls to remove their undergarments to check if they were menstruating.
The feast, organized by NGO Sachhi Saheli's founder Dr Surbhi Singh, saw a gathering of 300 people. It focussed on highlighting menstruating women who cooked the food. The attendees also signed a pledge to stand in solidarity and reject the myth that women are impure and impious during menstruation.
Singh reflected on the event and said, "The gathering of men and women in such a large number is evidence that people are not afraid of being reborn as animals, and such incidents and making statements against honour and dignity of women will no longer be tolerated.
Sachhi Saheli will continue to raise its voice against such misconceptions, debate myths and break the silence on menstruation because no one has the right to take away the pride of any woman just because she is getting periods.”
One of the chefs, 29-year-old Ritu who was on her third day of period as she cooked the raita and helped in the preparation of Rajma said, "We did this feast to break the stigma around periods and that women can do anything they want even when they are on their periods. If we won't work, then who will? I understand when people say don't go to the temple. If we take complete rest for a week of our periods then people will say we are giving excuses. When we did this feast we just wanted to tell people that people should change their thinking and that the food made by menstruating women is not going to harm anyone like it hasn't for centuries."
Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister who attended the feast as the chief guest said, "In today’s scientific day and age, there is nothing pure/impure about menstruation, it is a natural biological process that should be taken as it is."
We did this feast to break the stigma around periods and that women can do anything they want even when they are on their periods. If we won't work, then who will? I understand when people say don't go to the temple. If we take complete rest for a week of our periods then people will say we are giving excuses.
Noted feminist activist Kamla Bhasin was also present at the event she said, "I condemn the actions and thoughts of people who curse and stigmatize the same blood that gave them life! This Period Feast is a bold and appropriate retort for the misogynistic comments of swamis."
The event also saw a powerful play on menstruation called ‘Wo din’ presented by Asmita Theatre Group run by director Arvind Gaur who also acted in the play.
Picture credit- Sachhi Saheli