Sukma is a southern district of the Bastar Region of Chhattisgarh state. In Sukma more than 60% of the population is tribal and that contains majorly four tribal communities that are Gond, Halba, Dorla, and Dhurva. The overall population of the Sukma Gond tribal community has 55% of its contribution.
As we know that every community has certain beliefs and practices related to health and menstruation. The Gond community also has certain practices.
- During the menarche, women are not allowed to see the male members
- During their cycle, they cannot enter the paddy fields
- Girls cannot enter the house and especially the kitchen during periods
- They are not allowed to visit the temple during the menstruation cycle as they are considered impure at that time of the month
- During a time of menarche, a girl has to live in exile in a jungle or a farm in a makeshift hut
- Women members of the family provide food to the girl who is on her period
- In some places, menstruating girls and women live in a small hut that is near the house and they prepare food for themselves for those period days.
- Last day of menarche or period, she has to use a mixture of turmeric, water, oil, and powder of mango stem to purify her body and has to take bath. After the bath, she is clean and able to enter the home and do what she wants to do.
Although every tribal community has its own practices, the archaic approach remains the same. Looking at the menstrual cycle through the lens of something that is impure leads to curtailing not only the body of a woman but also her mind. When a girl gets her first period she has to stay outside of the home, It might be in a separate connected room or ground. She is not allowed to enter the home till she stops bleeding that month. Imagine the mental plight of an adolescent girl in exile.
In the overall 4-5 days (the period time of a girl varies) she can only eat one specific food (the one she consumed on the first day of her period) and one small stick to brush her teeth. And that stick also needs to be used from one source of the plant.
They think that if a girl eats food using one finger in menarche then she gets just one day of bleeding in the entire period cycle. If she eats with two fingers she will cycle for 2 days per cycle for life and if she uses her whole hand to eat food during menarche she will get periods for more than five days every cycle.
Shiksharth started the “Manva Nuni’ initiative just so girls and women get access to information that helps them manage their cycles whilst taking care of their physical and emotional well-being. This also constitutes questioning the control that archaic beliefs have over a time that is personal and intimate to every woman. A question without a resounding answer from a community and family will not find enough voices, and it is our endeavor to bring everyone out of the dated practices.