Vol. 1, Issue 5 (2016)
Religious-cultural construction of menstruation among purig and balti tribe of Kargil, Jammu & Kashmir
Author(s): Dr. Sarika Manhas, Sabiya Asmat
Abstract: From both the social and medical perspectives, menstruation is often considered the central event of female puberty, as it signals the possibility of fertility. It is a vital maturational event of puberty in female adolescents; however unlike other pubertal changes that are gradual and continuous, menarche is a distinct event with a sudden onset. It is highly correlated with other pubertal characteristics and is, therefore, referred as a benchmark for sexual maturation. There are socio-cultural concepts of menstruation which shape its experience among the females experiencing it. Kargil is one of the most distant geographic locales of India, which is culturally unique in many ways. A sample of 320 adolescent girls and 100 mothers of Balti and Purif tribe of the region described the various taboos and restrictions they faced during their monthly menstrual cycle. These taboos can be classified as religious, cultural, dietary, physical restrictions and sexual taboos. The findings of the study highlight that the lives of these tribal females continues to be influenced by the cultural and religious construction. No deviation on these taboos is allowed as it is considered unacceptable. Menstruation is a topic for private consumption only and not to be referred to as on the public. There are no direct word for referring to menstruation and further all menstrual issues and material are to be hidden from others especially the male. If the males come to know about this, it is a cause of shame and embracement. Women have to silently deal with menstruation and have to keep their menstrual material secretly; and even have to dispose these off in the most secretive manner. The lives of women continue to be bound by these taboos.