There’s something extremely funny in seeing a person defend what is probably a faith-based action as something with a “scientific basis” to it. Obviously enough, it’s not the previous generation that does it. My grandmother will insist on having a kolam because she likes it that way. Nothing else to it. But someone of my generation will probably insist that it was a “scientific thing” to do as it kept the ants of the house or helped feed the ants or something.
There’s an interesting topic on in the blogworld right now. Some posts on the issue. To sum it up, there’s obviously a lot of annoyance expressed when women are expected to isolate themselves or not touch half the objects in the world become they have their period. Coming from a relatively liberal family, I wasn’t brought up with these traditions. (And yes, I am delighted that I wasn’t.) But that still doesn’t mean you don’t have to come terms with it. In temples, in the houses of friends, random strangers will ask you if you are having your period, and how it makes a ten feet radius around you impure, and hence ask you to vanish. All the posts I linked to make a lot of sense, but some of the comments on the posts really annoyed me.
Those that want to practice something in the confines of their homes are welcome to. I do think that heaping such a tradition on a child is abusive. If a grown woman feels like being in a bubble, so be it. But let me come to my fundamental annoyance. It’s when people offer ridiculously absurd pieces of wisdom like “It was devised to help women get a little rest”, or “It had a scientific purpose – women didn’t have access to sanitary products and it was very unhygienic” and that their current practice of said tradition has a scientific reason for it.
I am sure ancient wisdom had contemporary interests in mind, but when you do have reasonably strong antibacterial soaps out in the market, that bit about hygiene feels like an eyewash. In sum, I understand that there might have been some logic to doing something a certain way 500 years back. But circumstances change. So the “same logic” doesn’t make sense.
So if you want to do it the old-fashioned way, don’t attempt to use that “logic”. Say it is your faith or your religion that compels you to do it that way. And be done with it. You have a right to practice whatever you want to – however arcane and pointless. But for the sheer sake of a good argument, don’t mix faith and logic. Make no mistake, religion and logic needn’t be dichotomous. It’s possible to immerse oneself in both. But to use one as an excuse for the other makes for some very muddled reasoning.
As a parting shot – logic is sometimes used to hide more dark objectives. Like wanting to control women. Like ensuring they never really get to join the workforce. (Especially in certain castes or classes – where the men have more to lose than gain if women go to work.). So just because something sounds all clever and kind, let’s not forget that it’s probably patronizing too.