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Here’s Why Whisper Is Asking All Girls To “Touch The Pickle” During Their Periods

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The taboos attached with menstruation in India are numerous, extremely old, and absurdly ridiculous. Don’t enter temples, don’t touch the idols of gods and goddesses, don’t water sacred plants, and in many households, don’t even enter the kitchen. With time, the level of strictness with which these customs are practiced is varying in different places, but they undoubtedly exist in one form or the other. The most weird of them all is the “don’t touch pickles during your periods” theory. As nonsensical as this limitation sounds, not touching pickle bottles during their periods every month, is something that many women religiously follow even today. We should not be mistaken with the notion that these practices are prevalent only in rural India or households with illiterate women. Even highly educated women and girls still believe that they are impure when menstruating and if they touch a bottle of pickle even by mistake, the pickle will be ruined.

When I was told about this illogical belief, I decided it was outright foolish to follow something of this kind. The good thing was that it was not strictly “banned” in my family and even though most women in the house had never touched a pickle jar during their periods, they understood why my sisters and I did not see any logic behind this restriction. But the condition is not the same in all Indian families, and there is absolutely nobody to be blamed here. The only good thing in this situation is the we have it in our hands to begin the process of unlearning these taboos. If just one girl in every family realizes this and explains how unnecessary these practices are, to her mother, grandmother, aunt and all those who tell her not to do specific things every 5-7 days of the month; it will be the beginning to an end to the cycle. I understand that this is not as easily done as said. We see women in our families not praying, not entering kitchens and not doing many things for some days every month, and there is a very high chance that it gets ingrained in our thoughts and beliefs. But the change has to begin somewhere. Someone has to get up and begin breaking these rusted shackles and the biggest reason is just one: this whole thing is staggeringly ridiculous. Not touching a jar of pickle because your body is undergoing a natural biological process is nothing but laughable.

Whisper has taken one such initiative with the #TouchThePickle movement, which has been started with the aim to end period related taboos. If girls don’t let any force in the world stop them, why should some senseless “don’ts” hold them back. Join Whisper’s movement here and end the vicious chain.

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  1. Saloni

    Brilliant and commendable initiative.

  2. sanskriti tiwari

    I never gave a thought about it. Supposedly, i just followed it because of my nani aur mousi ‘s teachings. But always, i thought why such things are considered as taboos and nobody even dare to challenge these things. Whenever i asked my nani about it, she replied “bas har baat batane layak nahi hoti” or “badon ki baatein hamesha man na chahiye”. But i always wondered, what is there in my biological cycle that makes an “achaar” not edible to eat. Once, i heard when my friend going through time, and she touched it, then (according to her mom) the pickle was not edible to eat. I never saw happening infront of me. Whenever i vehemently opposed, i was always labelled as “a loud and vehement feminist”. But, now thanks to WHISPER which is proving to be a correspondence in such thoughts. Thank you WHISPER 🙂

  3. Sowmya

    I agree with you but it would be appreciable if you can reason out and elaborate why did ancient people have such restriction, what we are calling as myths are the things they have followed with devotion. Simply making fun of their beliefs n going against them will not even give you support of many people to say i got this doubt many times but i din’t know the reason behind that, so though sometimes i laugh at that i still din’t ban that ritual from my dictionary.

  4. Menorca

    I’ve been arguing about these things with some of my relatives for the past few years, trying to make them reason it out. But, not everyone gets it. I don’t believe in not praying for those 5 days or not entering the kitchen. It is absolutely ridiculous!Though my family sees the logic, sadly, there are many others who choose to take a break from cooking , praying, pickle touching for a week every month, while their neighbours or relatives make sure that their kids do not go hungry!

  5. SanathanaDharmi

    Just because the traditions are old, they NEED NOT be wrong or foolish. Think with an open mind that if our forefathers and saints have said something through our scriptures, there should be some logical/scientific reason behind it and it is for our good. It is your duty to research the scriptures and find the real reason.

    People these days think that only this generation are logical thinkers. Remember our scriptures were not written in a day, rather they are an essence of thousands of years’ contemplation and logical thinking. They must have been put to various tests over the centuries, and that’s why they have stood the test of time.

    If you are ready to “BELIEVE” the words of a scientist whom you don’t even know, why not “THINK” over the advice of your previous generation.

    1. Madhavi

      @Sanatan Dharmi:
      Yes I agree with you, here should be some logical/scientific reason behind all the rituals and practices done by our fore fathers. In ancient times there were no sanitary napkins used by women during their period. So they were told not to sit every where but to sit on a separate mat/chair, to avoid the stains happening every where.But these days all women use sanitary pads…and you would not notice any woman roaming around with blood stained cloths!! 😛
      Also, due to lack of proper sanitation, it was usual for women those days to have dirty hands. (There was no Dettol those days you see). But now a days every women practices proper hygiene. Even women from remote villages use sanitary pads. Soap is used in every house hold. The pickle would spoil when touched with any dirty hands. It WILL NOT spoil when touched with CLEAN hands of MENSTRUATING woman!! So is there any logic behind following these taboos now? (Sitting at only a particular place always during periods and touching the pickle??)

    2. Hebba

      I absolutely agree. In fact, I find the whole touch the pickle thing by Whisper foolish. Pickles are very salty and promote water retention in your body thus proliferating PMS symptoms.

    3. pallavi

      before going thru the ad I wasn’t aware that women are not allowed to touch the pickle in those days. but I do agree with SanathanaDharmi that there must be scientific reasons behind such rituals.
      sitting in a corner and not entering the kitchen – in those days ur body needs rest coz u get tired and exhausted. not allowed to go to temple-ur body excretes unwanted fluids, ur physically not clean and at that time so is ur mind. u won’t feel like going to the temple on those 5-7 days. touching or having pickle-pickles have lot of heat and having such things on those days can increase flow.
      now these are my assumptions. I haven’t done any research but I remember my mom justifying me long back. but in today’s fast life following such rituals is difficult.
      whisper ad doesn’t click but the initiative taken by p&g is good enuf. bcos in India people are still having such notions and have created a taboo.

  6. Jismy

    I am told that not touching the pickle is not just a taboo. It is to prevent the microbes from getting spoiled by bacteria. Although I shirked it off as a misconception, as a biologist, I have to agree it does make sense. Pickles are dried and made in oil to prevent attack of microbes and tightly sealed to prevent any chance of further contamination. For those who take a bath (I am sure all of us do), there is every possibility of contracting breeding microbes (especially to those who use products like these…for extended periods of time which leads to what we call septic shock). Also, oil is an excellent growth medium for some body microbes. So..it goes to say that yes, if one is unhygienic (and you never know how a person is behind the bathroom walls), the pickle CAN get spoiled. But if you are sure of yourself, go ahead. TOUCH THE PICKLE>!! 🙂

  7. Shilpi

    Dear sanatan dharmi….

    Pls find the logic in it n then post here rather just advising……we do understand that our forefathers wrnt foolish n many traditions do hv logic behind it..i have read them so i know..but i m so sorry to disappoint u by saying that ..when it comes to women’s sexuality … all our forefathers have been scared due to their incompetency n insecurity …we can go on chain on discussions on this….social cultural political and economic.. but for now…. YES the pickle thing is absurd…

    Regards
    Vidharmi

  8. rounak jain

    Wat a waste of tym this article turned out to be. If it were written by whisper, I could have ignored it thinking its just another misleading attempt by a profit driven firm. No offence. But, I wonder how come such an insensible, immatured, narrow minded, reckless and pointlessly rebellious idea has come out of the executive Editor. Disappointed. Now I know why a majority of articles posted here is not just youth ki awaaz, rather frustrated youth ki awaaz.

  9. Mayuri Banerjee

    “touching the pickle” i think is a symbol of freedom, freedom from meaningless restrictions to which we are confined during those menstruation days and another noble initiative towards women empowerment.

  10. shivu

    India is developing country because main resson is 70% are illiterates. Once india get 100% literacy definitely india become developed country. Only all the citizens wants to improve their daily life then automatically cities develop and india will develop there is no cheating and fraud takes place. Now this superstious sre because of lack of awareness in people so only they will depend on temple and rituals instead of their own ability.

  11. deshdeep hira

    ^~It is a highly dissenting fact that finds a place in our country’s every home. However literate we may be, we still create a buzz out of inculcated taboo hidden under us to close the boundries of freedom for our young girls. This world have been created by the same phenomenon to which we frown our brows and consider hideous. Those idols in our temples are not governing or pampering infants borns, but our girls are. Stay awake and feel happy about this holy cycle which fills the bridge gap between a girl and a mother.

  12. sega

    DID GODS NEVER HAD PERIODS ?

    I hope I am not the only guy posting a comment out here… if yes, then I guess I am cracking an another taboo glass 🙂
    I don’t know how will my wife or my granny personally feel me sharing this with you all, but I know they will like the world to share the same view.
    Some time back when my 80+ year old grandmother was at our home for some festive celebrations,
    my wife backed off from a request from my grand-mom of a simple task of “returning back the ‘POOJA WORSHIP PLATE’ back to the small worship place we have at home.

    saying “Mājhē divasa cālū āhēta.” (माझे दिवस चालू आहेत. Or MY DAYS ARE GOING ON!)

    to which my grandmother replied
    Tyāmuḷē kāya jhālē ! (त्यामुळे काय झाले! OR SO WHAT HAPPENED !)
    Mājhā, yā mūrkhapaṇā var viśvāsa nāhī ! (माझा या मूर्खपणा वर विश्वास नाही. Or I DO NOT, BELIEVE IN ALL THIS NONSENSE.)
    Dēvācī aśā divasa kadhīch navhatē kā? (देवाची अशा दिवस कधीच नव्हते काय? OR DID GODS NEVER HAD PERIODS ? )

    Sega

  13. Raju

    “This is silly. Did you know that this is not a taboo? The idea was that girls during their periods should avoid eating acidic, spicy food…or preserved food. It should be fresh which is better for that time when your body is going through a tough: time. That’s all… It got translated to a taboo. Everything that Indian households believe in has scientific backing..

  14. Elisha

    In my opinion commercials like these add insult to injury, we need to let these taboos fade away and die a natural death. I for one (and I’m sure many others too) weren’t even aware of this distasteful belief.. however, thanks to this commercial thousands of Indians with an already primitive mind-set have another “feather to stick in their hats”.
    The only way to rid our society of such repugnance is to let it fade into oblivion..
    don’t forget the world is watching, which brings that much more embarrassment to an already disgraceful country.

  15. Madhavi

    This is a great initiative by #Whisper. I request #Whisper to come up with more such ads, which also describe WHY IT IS A MYTH NOW. These ads should be telecasted extensively on TV. Only then many women will get a strength to raise their voice against these taboos and convince their families/societies to NOT to follow them and break free.

  16. deepthi

    Good initiative by whisper. My husband is a doctor.. a superspecialist and he still forces me to do all this.. wish at least a few men change watching this.. and stop troubling women..

  17. Anusha

    I am strictly against these things and few points in my article reinstantiate your point :
    https://hindustanhumara.wordpress.com/2014/12/24/god-is-made-by-the-dominant-class-in-any-society/

    Do you know how my family reacted on reading this article?!! They asked me to just stop writing such articles and they even accused me to the extent that I am dishonouring them by writing such articles… All I asked was to think reasonably. And I was thrashed for attacking their beliefs. I know it’s tough to be a game changer, I wish I could get support.

  18. Mari

    It’s the microbe thing. My cousin’s family made wine, and it always turned to vinegar when she went near it during her period. We are not even Hindus, so hold no beliefs or taboos with regard to this. Staying away from preserved food during menstruation has a scientific basis. Which Whisper would do well to research!

    1. Alissa Abraham

      Hi Mari, I am genuinely interested in knowing the research behind it. But couldn’t find anything online. If you have any books or links, please share. My wine is fermenting in the jar and I am on my period right now. ? Would really love to know what’s the science behind this, if there is any.. ?

  19. Prerna

    I totally agree staying away from pickles is one thing which is followed in most of the Indian households having numerous literate women and don’t know the exact logic behind this belief till today.

  20. Neelam Sinha

    Oops! i broke this last years and this year again!
    i not just touched mango and lemon pickles last year but this year i made 8 kgs of mango pickles during my periods. and whole pickle is 100% fine, even we finished 2 kg of that by eating some at our own home and sending some to friends.
    The only thing i did not disclose this to anyone because no one will believe that a myth gone wrong.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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