A few days ago, the new board president of Sabarimala temple in Kerala, Prayar Gopalakrishnan, sparked up controversy after stating that women who are menstruating are impure, and hence will not be allowed into the temple.
Many Hindu temples in India make it clear that women who are on their period are not welcome inside, as the religion considers menstruating women to be unclean.
But the fact that women of menstruating age are completely barred from entering the Sabarimala temple has long been a subject of controversy.
The new president of the board that manages the temple has now added fuel to the fire with his latest comments.
In response to a question about women’s right to enter the temple, Prayar Gopalakrishnan said he would only consider allowing women to enter after a machine that could scan and judge a woman’s “purity” had been invented.
“There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the ‘right time’ [not menstruating] for a woman to enter the temple,” he said.
“When that machine is invented, we will talk about letting women inside.”
He then furthered his statement by saying “these days there are machines that can scan bodies and check for weapons. There will be a day when a machine is invented to scan if it is the ‘right time’ for a woman to enter the temple.”
He added, while speaking to reporters at the Kollam Press Club, that when the machine is invented then they will “talk about letting women inside (the temple)”.
On Nov. 21, a Facebook event called Happy To Bleedwas launched by Nikita Azad as a counter campaign against the comments made by Gopalakrishnan, and against menstrual taboos in general.
“Yes, we bleed, once in a month, and feel no shame absolutely in stating it openly,” Azad stated in a Facebook post about the campaign.
College student Nikita Azad, 20, launched the #HappyToBleed campaign on Facebook over the weekend.
It has since gained traction across social media as a protest against the taboo surrounding menstruation that is still prevalent in Indian culture.
“By this statement, he [Gopalakrishnan] has reinforced misogyny and strengthened myths that revolve around women,” the campaign page reads.
“Happy To Bleed is a counter-campaign launched against menstrual taboos, and sexism that women are subject to through it.
“It acknowledges menstruation as a natural activity which doesn’t need curtains to hide behind.”
Ms Azad told the BBC the #HappyToBleed campaign did not believe “in a religion that considers half the world impure”.
She said it was not just “a temple-entry campaign” but rather “a protest against patriarchy and gender discriminatory practices prevalent in our society”.
Ms Azad said more than 100 people had posted their photos to the campaign’s Facebook page, and the movement has also spread across Twitter.