A Study Of Menstrual Taboos Prevalent Among Muslim Females Of Banihal, J&K

Research Article
Sarika Manhas and Rabia Salem
Menstruation, Taboos, Adolescent girls, Mothers, Muslims

The present study explores the various taboos related to menstruation that exist among Muslim community of Banihal town, District Ramban, Jammu & Kashmir state. Menstruation is a significant physiological process which all normal and health females will go through in their life span. It has connotations for reproductive fertility as well as maturity. The sample for the study comprised of 100 Muslim adolescent girls in the age group of 13-19 years and 50 mothers having at least one adolescent daughter. The sample girls were selected randomly through their schools where as the mothers were drawn out purposively from a total of 05 villages of Banihal. Data was gathered through the use of focus group discussion separately form mothers and daughters. Results reveal that even today the females of this Muslim community tend to face a number of taboos related to dietary intake, religious activities, physical activities and hygiene. All sample mothers as well as the daughters were prohibited from performing any religious activities while they were menstruating. The females were especially instructed not to take citrus food, spicy and cold food during their periods. During their monthly cycle the females could not fast, pray, touch and read the Holy Quran; and couldn’t visit shrines. Regarding physical activities the females were instructed not to get involved in physically rigorous activities and hence jumping and running were to be avoided. In some cases from hygiene point of view the females were asked to avoid taking bath during this time and were not allowed to cook and enter the kitchen. These results highlight that taboos related to menstruation are still prevalent in the selected community and that both the girls as well as their mothers followed them without much deviation or change. Mothers passed information about these taboos to their daughters and hence the taboos transcended one generation to another. Also, it was found that most sample females felt that these taboos were useful to them and hence never questioned their authenticity and efficacy.