Jilted by a Period

A year ago I was told of a bride who had to cancel her wedding because she was on her period. A year long preparation had to be called off at the last minute. The poor groom was left standing. The brides family were extremely religious and believed that a girl could not go under the Mandap (Hindu wedding alter) when she was menstruating, it was bad luck and the marriage would be doomed.

It is unbelievable that a period can dictate fortunes, auspicious occasions and even events in your household but such cultural beliefs exist and are taking place in homes today.  I can only speak from personal experience and do not know if the same things happens within other regional cultures of the South Asian continent, but Gujratis have some really strange customs when it comes down to female menstruation.

Firstly, there is a slang term used for periods which translated means “unclean”.  There is nothing unclean about a period, yet there are many things you are not allowed to do when you are on your period. You cannot go to the Temple, attend religious events or host religious and auspicious events. In our house, you couldn’t touch pickles for fear that they would go bad. I have heard that in some households, women are prevented from entering into the kitchen, have to eat on their own and are even asked to stay in their bedrooms for the first three days.

Traditionally, a woman menstruating was asked to rest by her mother-in-law as a period would be tiresome and draining. Somehow, through the decades and even centuries, these cultural habits have not changed even though lifestyles have changed. Instead they have been reinforced from fear of bad luck and fortune.

To cancel a whole wedding due to a period was a bit extreme for me. I would have been tempted to go to all lengths to hide this. However, it does lead me to wonder whether other South Asian regional cultures have similar customs and what happens in their household…


5 Comments to “Jilted by a Period”

  1. Hi Bunty,

    Really interesting article. It is a bit extreme to cancel a wedding because of a period and does luck really determine the success of a marriage?

    From my background (Muslim) we can go to mosque not not pray, we can’t read the Koran, we are not to fast during Ramadan and that’s about it as far as the religion goes I think. However, culturally the only thing we got told not to do is go past a graveyard when menstruating as the hormones attract spirits. It’s a good job most people don’t usually hang outside graveyards so that’s not too difficult.


  2. Has this bride never heard of the pill???

    These kinds of customs and beliefs are purely to keep a woman in her (lesser) place. I say down with them. What frustrates me the most about them is that it is women themselves who pass on these silly traditions. If women keep
    propagating them, then of course they will continue.

    It is time for these women to open their eyes and stop hating themselves. Having a period is perfectly natural. We are not evil. We are not unclean. We are all woman.

  3. I cannot believe that this rubbish still goes on .. I remember a male cousin asking me once if I was ok as I looked a bit off colour and I replied that I was on my period and my mum was MORTIFIED that I discussed being on my period with a BOY!!!!

    Unfortunately for her we all picked up on her discomfort with the ease that we spoke about being on periods that we continued for ever more, even asking them to pick up some tampax for us from the shops .. now when a male cousin sighs and goes “she’s on her period” to explain nutty behaviour, she actually joins in and giggles!

  4. Oh yeah, I never thought of the pill! I agree women should not keep up with these prejudices that make us feel unclean and not a part of society while we are menstruating.

    Still, it’s a good excuse to get out of P.E. isn’t it? I was ‘on my period’ for months so I didn’t have to go swimming – I am really lazy.

  5. Even if she did use the pill, I think it is the whole custom that should be looked at. Taking the pill is just avoiding the oppresive nature of this custom. It is derogatory and prehistoric. Women should not be made to feel unworthy because of their periods.

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