This Sikh Temple is busting period taboos with an incredibly empowering new policy

The Shepherd’s Bush Gurdwara (Temple) has become the first in the world to launch a period policy....

Ok I admit, when it’s my time of the month, you are more likely to find me curled up on the sofa with a box of choccies watching Love Island than playing beach volleyball, no matter what the adverts say. However, whatever I want to do, I know I can without thinking twice...

...Everyday things we take for granted, such as giving someone a hug, or sticking our clothes in the washing machine are out of bounds because they are considered impure and dirty when women have their time of the month.

However, one Sikh temple in London is taking a stand and calling the community out on it.

The Shepherd’s Bush Gurdwara (Temple) has become the first in the world to launch a period policy. It includes providing free sanitary products, running workshops on menstrual health and most importantly making sure there are no restrictions on women during their periods.

It’s a big deal because temples are considered the biggest no-go area for women during their periods and most people believe it’s sacrilege for a woman to step foot in a temple or pray during their period...

...Baljit Kaur*, 26 from Manchester said, "When my mum died, I lied about being on my period as there was no way I was going to miss saying goodbye. The idea that periods are dirty is so ingrained in us, that it never occurred to me to question whether it was right."

Jaspreet Kaur a.k.a Behind the Netra, a spoken word artist from East London, shed light on the taboo around periods in her poem ‘Blood,’ in which she describes "sneaking my sanitary towels as if they were drugs".

"It felt like something I needed to hide, as if I was doing something wrong. An embarrassment, something shameful, when of course it wasn't. But women are made to feel like it’s something deviant, something criminal."

Manjit did some research and discovered that many of these were cultural myths and nothing to do with religion so she decided to get the temples involved...

...However, the Shepherds Bush Temple, which is the oldest in the UK, agreed to get on board. Youth Secretary of the Temple, Gurpreet Singh Anand said: "By supporting this initiative, we hope to get the debate going and remove the stigma. If we have a policy, we hope other gurdwaras will follow suit and it sends a positive message to the community that our faith doesn’t discriminate".

In countries like India and Nepal, superstitions around periods are rife and not just in the Sikh community. "Women are told if they look in a mirror when they have their period, they will become infertile or they can’t go out after sunset or they will go blind," said Manjit...

...However, since launching the policy, Manjit has been contacted by temples around the world for help to set up similar projects. "I’m delighted, but I just felt that before I go to a Hindu temple or a Muslim mosque, or go to another country, we needed to get our house in order first. Hopefully we are starting to do that now."

 

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