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‘Ramzan’ Or ‘Ramadan’? A Look Into The Cultural Chauvinism Among North Indian Muslims

More from MahtabNama

By Mahtab Alam:

This year, a week before the month of Muslim/Islamic fasting started, social media was abuzz with a debate about how to actually pronounce, spell, and write the name of the month. Is one supposed to call it Ramadan, or is Ramzan the proper term? The debate was so fierce that a few non-Muslim friends emailed and called up enquiring about this. My answer was simple – there is nothing wrong and right about it. Keep pronouncing, spelling, and writing, the way you used to. People of different geographies do it differently.

Ramzan

Many believe, though, that this isn’t just a matter of spelling or pronouncing, as Irena Akbar of Indian Express in her latest column notes: “How can someone living in India, and being Indian, ever say “Ramadan”? That was a point raised by one Facebook friend (not real-life friend), when she posted, “Aap sabhi ko Ramadhan, Ramadan nahi – sirf saada, sachcha, hindustani ‘Ramzan Mubarak’!” (Wish you all not Ramadan, but only simple, true Indian Ramzan Mubarak’). She later even suggested that those who prefer “d” over “z” are followers of “Saudi Islam”, and that choosing “Ramadan” over “Ramzan” is not just a spelling preference but a “political decision” of favouring Arabs over Persians!

On a similar note, Rana Safvi in her blog, The Journey from Ramzan to Ramadan writes, “From childhood, I have heard people using the word Ramzan and keeping rozas. Of late it has become Ramadan. The object of my blog is to trace how this happened and whether we can still use Ramzan.” After explaining a bit about origin and context of the Islamic month of fasting, she goes on to ask, “Why on earth would we wish someone in a foreign language? (English /Urdu /Hindi are now our mother tongues but Arabic is not).” She does not stop there, but goes on to conclude, “This is nothing but the hardening of religious stances syndrome. It is this syndrome which says that saying ‘Khuda hafiz’ is wrong, it should be ‘Allah hafiz’. We try to bring God down to our own narrow, petty level. Will HE not protect me if I call him Khuda, instead of Allah? Will he not accept my ‘rozas’ kept in the month of ‘Ramzan’ as opposed to those who keep ‘sawm’ in Ramadan’?”

Another writer, this time from the other side of the border, Pakistan, Mina Malik Hussain in The Nation, writes, “When we were small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper with the sehr-o-iftar timings…And then, insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us…Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew exactly how it happened…”

Now the question is – is it so simple? Are there no socio-economic and cultural aspects to it? Why should only Arabic be considered a foreign language — and why should only ‘English /Urdu /Hindi’ be considered mother tongue of Indian Muslims, as Rana Safvi suggests? And whose mother tongue? I am not sure if I can claim that my mother tongue is Urdu, Hindi or Maithili. The way I speak at home will not fit in any of these languages. For the sake of immediate identity politics, I might say Urdu/Hindi/Maithili is my mother tongue. But the fact of the matter is that a puritan would baulk hearing me speak any of these languages.

Forget about English, Arabic and Persian, what about Bangla, Assamese, Malayalam, Tamil and other languages, which are spoken by most Muslims across India as their mother tongue? Why do the cultural elite Muslims of North India always insist that ‘Urdu should be spoken in the Urdu way’? And why are those who can’t pronounce Urdu ‘properly’ always ridiculed and often seen as a lesser Muslim or lesser Civilized?

Let me explain this in Mina Malik Hussain’s style.

“When I was small, there was a month and it used to be called Ramjan (not Ramzan). It was Ramjan on television, it was Ramjan in the newspaper with the Sehri aur Aftar (not Sehr-o-iftar) timings and to wish anyone, it would have been Ramjan Mobarak (not Ramzan Mubarik). And then, when I moved to Delhi from a small town of Bihar (at the age of 14) the Culture wallahs and wallihs started insisting — rather ridiculing: ‘you don’t even know how to pronounce things properly. It’s Ramzan not Ramjan, you Biharis!”

It wasn’t and is not limited to Biharis only; most of the Muslims from Bengal, Assam, North-East, or for that matter, a large number of people from eastern UP don’t pronounce and write it Ramazan but as Ramojan, Rumjan and Ramjan, etc. One can also include Bangladesh in this this list. In fact, you will find people from these geographies spelling their name as Ramjan Ali, Romjan Ali and Rumjan Ali, etc instead of Ramzan Ali.

Let me also confess that I started using Khuda Hafiz to say good bye only after coming to Delhi. Even today, most of the ordinary Muslims in my home town don’t say anything while bidding good bye, forget about Allah Hafiz. “You must be from some remote part of North India, which is still far from civilization,” one can argue. True, I am. And I don’t mind being ‘Uncultured’ and ‘lesser Civilized.’ But so are most of Indian Muslims.

According to the latest census (2011), a high percentage of Muslims in India don’t live in the so-called Urdu/Hindi ‘speaking’ states like UP and Bihar but in Assam (30.9%), West Bengal (25.2%) and Kerala (24.7%). And because they primarily don’t speak Urdu, they are considered as lesser Muslims. If I am wrong, please tell me why the Muslims don’t have non-Urdu speaking ‘National Muslim leaders’ from these states? Are they not competent enough? Why are they forced to learn and speak Urdu? Is it not true that we will only accept G M Banatwa (a Gujarati, Muslim League, Kerala), Ebrahim Sulaiman Sait (a Cutchi Memon from Mysore, Muslim League, Kerala) and Badruddin Ajmal (an Assamese, graduated from Darul Uloom Deoband) and others because they were/are as fluent in Urdu as North Indian Muslim are? Is not it also a form of cultural chauvinism?

In her article, Mina Malik Hussain claims, “… as a nation we were still fairly open-minded about this, so we fasted year after year and didn’t really pay attention to the semantics of it…Because here in multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan there was actual leeway where one would wonder who exactly Khuda is, and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a pagan god. Some people resisted, and continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and hope…”

I have only one question to the writer: How did the Bengali Language Movement start in (east) Pakistan, resulting ultimately in the partition of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. Was there no role played by the proponents of Urdu Nationalism and Cultural Muslims? Was it also a project of the Saudis/Arabs, insidiously destroying ‘multi-religious, multi-cultural and secular Pakistan’?

I know this is an endless and complex debate. One can go on and on. Hence, my submission would be, let’s not over-simplify it as most of the people are doing right now. Irena Akbar, towards the end of her article, rightly suggests that “Let’s not, in an attempt to prove our patriotism and secularism, run down the Arabs and Indian Muslims who prefer Arabic over Persian, or who don’t visit Sufi shrines. If ‘Indian Islam’ followers think their anti-Arab, pro-Sufi stance makes them more secular and patriotic in the eyes of non-Muslim Indians, they are wrong.” Because, there is no Indian and South Asian way of doing it. Insistence on one is as hegemonic as the other one. At the end of the day, what matters is the intention and Rana Safvi is absolutely right when she says, Dil se jo baat nikalti hai asar rakhti hai.

And before a debate breaks out about the correctness of whether its Eid or Id, Eid-ul Fitr or Id-ul-Adha, let me wish you Mubarak in advance, whichever way you wish to spell it.

Mahtab Alam considers himself a Muslim without any suffix and prefix. He blogs at http://mahtabnama.wordpress.com/ and Tweets at @MahtabNama

You must be to comment.
  1. Haifa Zubair

    I have gone through all the ‘ramdan’, ‘ramzan’, ‘ramjan’ !!!

  2. Babar

    Why all this hype over such a trivial matter. It is simply Ramadan, because that is how Allah SWT has chosen for it to be pronounced in the Holy Quran. When Muslims pray (namaz), they recite the Holy Quran which was revealed in Arabic. You cannot recite the translation in your mother tongue and then get into a needless argument over whether we should recite the Holy Quran in our prayer (namaz) in Arabic or our mother tongue.

    And before a debate breaks out about the correctness of whether its Eid or Id, Eid-ul Fitr or Id-ul-Adha….

    Yet gain, the author is trying to turn a mole into a mountain hill. Whether you write Eid or Id, it is pronounced exactly the same. Eid-ul-Fitr is what falls after Ramadan, whereas Id-ul-Adha takes place two months and ten days after Eid-ul-Fitr, when Muslims sacrifice goats which is a religious obligation.

    After all the hue and cry, I am surprised the author is unaware of such an important aspect of Islam, or maybe he is but simply chooses not to acknowledge it, so that he can needlessly drag such an insignificant issue.

    1. Balakrishna

      I beg to differ with you my friend. It is illogical to place God in the narrow sprectrum of language or religion. God is beyond all these human made classifications. If God hears only the words written in particular language, in this occasion it is Arabic, is not realistic. How does a deaf and dumb pray? It is the purpose of the prayer, and not the language, which matters to God. We all believe that all the creatures, including human, as well as things are God’s creation. Even animals may pray, we do not know.

    2. B

      We can ask Allah in any language, that is called ‘Dua’, but Namaz has to be in Arabic in which we recite certain ‘Surahs’ (Verses) from the Holy Quran.

  3. Mohammad Talha

    A baseless issue have been raised just for intellectual adventure. No genuine discourse is there. Whatever pronunciation is, the intention of Roza must be fulfilled as desired in Qura’n-o-Sunnah. As far as the pronunciation of “Ramzan” or “Ramadan” is concerned, even there are seven ascent of Arabic pronunciation. Which type of cultural Chauvinism is there? Important is the spirit of Roza which should not be differ. Please try to narrow the gap of difference rather promoting this type of baseless feeling. All Muslim is unite whether Bihar, Bengali, Assami, Punjabi or elsewhere.

  4. Why Persian? Why not Indian?

    You say about following Indigenous culture.But then why are we hell bent on trying to copy Persians ???

    If Indonesians/Chinese/Farsi people can adopt Islam their way,Why can’t we.Look at Indonesia for instance.Majority of them are Muslims but they have not left their culture or copied anyone else’s.They even are comfortable to keep non Arabic named(read the present head of state of Indonesia).

    In my family when discussions were going about the christening of my brother(I am an atheist born in a non Muslim family),I suggested an Indian name which was shot down angrily by my elders saying its non-Islamic.And the big irony was they ended up naming him Zubin (Also non-islamic).

    All I’m saying is if others can do it,Why can’t we ? Almost all the Mughal emperors had non Islamic names.The Persians even rechristened the Key Islamic words like Fasting which was Sawn in Arabic was adopted to Roza , Ramadan to Ramzan as you pointed , Salat to Namaz(Which by the way is related to Sanskrit word ‘Naman’ both of them meaning salutations,the former used by zoroastrians ,owing to the fact that both are sister languages).

    And the language too.Why do we need to Persianize our script ? Why can’t we adopt Devanagari as it is the script of our civilization ?

    These are just few of the many questions I have and would love to have a debate on them.

  5. Why Persian ? Why not Indian ?

    Why Persian? Why not Indian?
    Posted at 2:37 pm July 23, 2014
    Mohammad Talha
    Posted at 1:22 pm July 23, 2014
    Babar
    Posted at 12:39 pm July 23, 2014
    Haifa Zubair
    FEATURED
    ‘Ramzan’ Or ‘Ramadan’? A
    Look Into The Cultural
    Chauvinism Among North
    Indian Muslims
    23rd July, 2014 With: 4 Opinions
    By Mahtab Alam :
    This year, a week before the month of
    Muslim/Islamic fasting started, social
    media was abuzz with a debate about
    how to actually pronounce, spell, and
    write the name of the month. Is one
    supposed to call it Ramadan, or is
    Ramzan the proper term? The debate was
    so fierce that a few non-Muslim friends
    emailed and called up enquiring about
    this. My answer was simple – there is
    nothing wrong and right about it. Keep
    pronouncing, spelling, and writing, the
    way you used to. People of different
    geographies do it differently.
    Many believe, though, that this isn’t just a
    matter of spelling or pronouncing, as
    Irena Akbar of Indian Express in her
    latest column notes: “How can someone
    living in India, and being Indian, ever say
    “Ramadan”? That was a point raised by
    one Facebook friend (not real-life friend),
    when she posted, “Aap sabhi ko
    Ramadhan, Ramadan nahi — sirf saada,
    sachcha, hindustani ‘Ramzan
    Mubarak’!” ( Wish you all not Ramadan,
    but only simple, true Indian Ramzan
    Mubarak’). She later even suggested that
    those who prefer “d” over “z” are
    followers of “Saudi Islam”, and that
    choosing “Ramadan” over “Ramzan” is not
    just a spelling preference but a “political
    decision” of favouring Arabs over
    Persians!
    On a similar note, Rana Safvi in her blog,
    The Journey from Ramzan to Ramadan
    writes, “From childhood, I have heard
    people using the word Ramzan and keeping
    rozas. Of late it has become Ramadan. The
    object of my blog is to trace how this
    happened and whether we can still use
    Ramzan.” After explaining a bit about
    origin and context of the Islamic month of
    fasting, she goes on to ask, “Why on earth
    would we wish someone in a foreign
    language? (English /Urdu /Hindi are now
    our mother tongues but Arabic is not).”
    She does not stop there, but goes on to
    conclude, “This is nothing but the
    hardening of religious stances syndrome. It
    is this syndrome which says that saying
    ‘Khuda hafiz’ is wrong, it should be ‘Allah
    hafiz’. We try to bring God down to our
    own narrow, petty level. Will HE not
    protect me if I call him Khuda, instead of
    Allah? Will he not accept my ‘rozas’ kept
    in the month of ‘Ramzan’ as opposed to
    those who keep ‘sawm’ in Ramadan’?”
    Another writer, this time from the other
    side of the border, Pakistan, Mina Malik
    Hussain in The Nation, writes, “When we
    were small, there was a month and it used
    to be called Ramzan. It was Ramzan on
    television, it was Ramzan in the newspaper
    with the sehr-o-iftar timings…And then,
    insidiously, The Arabs crept up on us…
    Ramzan became Ramadan. Nobody knew
    exactly how it happened…”
    Now the question is – is it so simple? Are
    there no socio-economic and cultural
    aspects to it? Why should only Arabic be
    considered a foreign language – and why
    should only ‘English /Urdu /Hindi’ be
    considered mother tongue of Indian
    Muslims, as Rana Safvi suggests? And
    whose mother tongue? I am not sure if I
    can claim that my mother tongue is Urdu,
    Hindi or Maithili. The way I speak at
    home will not fit in any of these
    languages. For the sake of immediate
    identity politics, I might say Urdu/Hindi/
    Maithili is my mother tongue. But the fact
    of the matter is that a puritan would
    baulk hearing me speak any of these
    languages.
    Forget about English, Arabic and Persian,
    what about Bangla, Assamese,
    Malayalam, Tamil and other languages,
    which are spoken by most Muslims across
    India as their mother tongue? Why do the
    cultural elite Muslims of North India
    always insist that ‘Urdu should be spoken
    in the Urdu way’ ? And why are those who
    can’t pronounce Urdu ‘properly’ always
    ridiculed and often seen as a lesser
    Muslim or lesser Civilized?
    Let me explain this in Mina Malik
    Hussain’s style.
    “When I was small, there was a month and
    it used to be called Ramjan (not Ramzan).
    It was Ramjan on television, it was Ramjan
    in the newspaper with the Sehri aur Aftar
    (not Sehr-o-iftar) timings and to wish
    anyone, it would have been Ramjan
    Mobarak (not Ramzan Mubarik). And then,
    when I moved to Delhi from a small town
    of Bihar (at the age of 14) the Culture
    wallahs and wallihs started insisting –
    rather ridiculing: ‘you don’t even know
    how to pronounce things properly. It’s
    Ramzan not Ramjan, you Biharis!”
    It wasn’t and is not limited to Biharis
    only; most of the Muslims from Bengal,
    Assam, North-East, or for that matter, a
    large number of people from eastern UP
    don’t pronounce and write it Ramazan
    but as Ramojan, Rumjan and Ramjan, etc.
    One can also include Bangladesh in this
    this list. In fact, you will find people from
    these geographies spelling their name as
    Ramjan Ali, Romjan Ali and Rumjan Ali,
    etc instead of Ramzan Ali.
    Let me also confess that I started using
    Khuda Hafiz to say good bye only after
    coming to Delhi. Even today, most of the
    ordinary Muslims in my home town don’t
    say anything while bidding good bye,
    forget about Allah Hafiz. “You must be
    from some remote part of North India,
    which is still far from civilization,” one can
    argue. True, I am. And I don’t mind being
    ‘Uncultured’ and ‘lesser Civilized.’ But so
    are most of Indian Muslims.
    According to the latest census (2011), a
    high percentage of Muslims in India don’t
    live in the so-called Urdu/Hindi ‘speaking’
    states like UP and Bihar but in Assam
    (30.9%), West Bengal (25.2%) and Kerala
    (24.7%). And because they primarily
    don’t speak Urdu, they are considered as
    lesser Muslims. If I am wrong, please tell
    me why the Muslims don’t have non-
    Urdu speaking ‘National Muslim leaders’
    from these states? Are they not competent
    enough? Why are they forced to learn and
    speak Urdu? Is it not true that we will
    only accept G M Banatwa (a Guajarati,
    Muslim League, Kerala), Ebrahim
    Sulaiman Sait (a Cutchi Memon from
    Mysore, Muslim League, Kerala) and
    Badruddin Ajmal (an Assamese, graduated
    from Darul Uloom Deoband) and others
    because they were/are as fluent in Urdu
    as North Indian Muslim are? Is not it also
    a form of cultural chauvinism?
    In her article, Mina Malik Hussain
    claims, “… as a nation we were still fairly
    open-minded about this, so we fasted year
    after year and didn’t really pay attention to
    the semantics of it…Because here in multi-
    religious, multi-cultural and secular
    Pakistan there was actual leeway where
    one would wonder who exactly Khuda is,
    and perhaps not want to be entrusted to a
    pagan god. Some people resisted, and
    continue to resist Allah hafiz and keep
    saying khuda-hafiz with the logic and
    hope…”
    I have only one question to the writer:
    How did the Bengali Language Movement
    start in (east) Pakistan, resulting
    ultimately in the partition of Pakistan and
    creation of Bangladesh. Was there no role
    played by the proponents of Urdu
    Nationalism and Cultural Muslims? Was
    it also a project of the Saudis/Arabs,
    insidiously destroying ‘multi-religious,
    multi-cultural and secular Pakistan’ ?
    I know this is an endless and complex
    debate. One can go on and on. Hence, my
    submission would be, let’s not over-
    simplify it as most of the people are doing
    right now. Irena Akbar, towards the end
    of her article rightly suggests that “Let’s
    not, in an attempt to prove our patriotism
    and secularism, run down the Arabs and
    Indian Muslims who prefer Arabic over
    Persian, or who don’t visit Sufi shrines. If
    ‘Indian Islam’ followers think their anti-
    Arab, pro-Sufi stance makes them more
    secular and patriotic in the eyes of non-
    Muslim Indians, they are wrong.” Because,
    there is no Indian and South Asian way of
    doing it. Insistence on one is as hegemonic
    as the other one. At the end of the day,
    what matters is intention and Rana Safvi
    is absolutely right when she says, Dil se jo
    baat nikalti hai asar rakhti hai.
    And before a debate breaks out about the
    correctness of whether its Eid or Id, Eid-
    ul Fitr or Id-ul-Adha, let me wish you
    Mubarak in advance, whichever way you
    wish to spell it.
    Mahtab Alam consider himself a Muslim
    without any suffix and prefix. He blogs at
    http://mahtabnama.wordpress.com/ and
    Tweets at @MahtabNama
    78
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    Zahid-e-tang nazar ne mujhe #Kafir
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     COMMENTS
    You say about following Indigenous
    culture.But then why are we hell bent on
    trying to copy Persians ???
    If Indonesians/Chinese/Farsi people can
    adopt Islam their way,Why can’t we.Look at
    Indonesia for instance.Majority of them are
    Muslims but they have not left their culture
    or copied anyone else’s.They even are
    comfortable to keep non Arabic named(read
    the present head of state of Indonesia).
    In my family when discussions were going
    about the christening of my brother(I am an
    atheist born in. aa Muslim family),I
    suggested an Indian name which was shot
    down angrily by my elders saying its non-
    Islamic.And the big irony was they ended up
    naming him Zubin (Also non-islamic).
    All I’m saying is if others can do it,Why
    can’t we ? Almost all the Mughal emperors
    had non Islamic names.The Persians even
    rechristened the Key Islamic words like
    Fasting which was Sawn in Arabic was
    adopted to Roza , Ramadan to Ramzan as
    you pointed , Salat to Namaz(Which by the
    way is related to Sanskrit word ‘Naman’
    both of them meaning salutations,the
    former used by zoroastrians ,owing to the
    fact that both are sister languages).
    And the language too.Why do we need to
    Persianize our script ? Why can’t we adopt
    Devanagari as it is the script of our
    civilization ?
    These are just few of the many questions I
    have and would love to have a debate on
    them.

  6. Salman Ismail Khan

    If I am not wrong, late Abdul Ghani Khan Chaudhary, a muslim leader from North Bengal, was counted as a national Muslim leader, even though he was not an urdu speaker. There must be many more such examples, which the writer has chosen to ignore.

    1. Mahtab Alam

      Abdul Ghani Khan saheb was always seen as a Congress leader NOT ‘national leader of Indian Muslims’. And l have nothing against Urdu per se, but yes imposition of it, for that matter any language…I am totally against it. More you can find at my blog.

  7. Salman Ismail Khan

    If I am not wrong, Abdul Ghani Khan Chaudhary, a muslim from north Bengal, was a leader o national stature even though he was not much comfortable in Urdu..Seems the author has an axe to grind.

  8. Andeel Ali

    I have totally different view about this issue! And it I want to blame it all on Microsoft (This part is Sarcastic!)

    The real issue is called, “Transliteration”

    Whenever one wants to transliterates a term in another languages such issues arise!

    رمضان is just رمضان No matter it is written in Arabic, Persian or Urdu! Yes pronunciation matters but I have not sheen anyone pronouncing it as “Ramadhan” in Pakistan! We just do this every time we write in a foreign language!

    The problem arises when we try to write it in “English” When write Ramzan our browser or word processor immediately creates a red underline under the word, marking it as incorrect when we ask the right spelling, it tell us, “Ramadan”

    Why is that so? Because the Americans have transliterated this term from Arabic, not from, Urdu or Persian thus creating this Paradoxical situation!

  9. Irfanullah

    Although there has been enough discussion on the issue I wanted to flag few things. To begin with, I agree with many that it is not really an issue. Some of our Muslim friends who are admirers of online activism do all this non sense. They have nothing better to do. Instead of doing something really constructive and meaningful they would indulge in debating whether its ramadan or ramzan. The thing is that for Arabs it was always Ramadan. In English it is simply a matter of transliteration. We use d with a dot for the z sound thats there in ramadan. Arabic has for z sounds so we have d dot, we have z, z dot, and dh underlined. There is a much older debate regarding whether we should say walad-daaleen or walaz-zaaleen. The simple argument is that in Urdu there is not much distinction maintained between the ramadan z and the plain z. So in our households we say ramzan. Very few in their daily conversations use ramadan because Urdu is like that. But when it comes to theactual word it is ramadan because its spelled like that in the Quran. Also, in Urdu I believe the mistake we commit is that we say ramzan and not ramazan. Regarding Ramjan, I dont think its a matter of cultural chauvinism if someone points out the problem with it. If one can pronounce the z sound and says ramjan, then it needs to be corrected. While speaking English we never ask these questions when we are corrected. We passionately follow and improve. However, in the case of Urdu we start talking about cultural chauvinism. If we are informed of the right pronunciation there is nothing wrong with that. I used to call Id-ul-Adha bakhreed…I was told its either Id-ul-Adha or baqra id…So I stopped using bakhreed and id-uzzuha. If we use Arabic terms we ought to follow instructions given by people aware of the language…

  10. shmeetes

    Haha, this is just an accent issue. I don’t understand why this is being debated about? In Bangladesh, the word we use for ‘table’ is ‘tebil’. They’re actually the same word, we just borrowed the English word, but it sounds completely different when we say it. Makes no difference to anything!

  11. Deepika

    I cannot express enough how much I loved this piece. It was very interesting to read!

  12. Monica I.

    Obviously very insightful, but this topic itself is very complex, involving a lot of sentiments and ideologies, from nationalism to identity. I sincerely hope that we can look beyond all these and excel together with a common bond of humanity. 🙂

  13. Thazul

    ‘Za’ is regionalized Arabic letter for “Dh’a” in Tamil the regionalized letter is ‘La’. If anyone learn Tajweed or proper Arabic they prefer to use ‘Dha’ instead of ‘Za’ or ‘La’. Again ‘Khuda’ is a Persian term for God, using ‘Allah’ instead of ‘Khuda’ is right way to use with Islamic greetings. Is this a real issue among Muslims I do not understand the purpose of this article. It seems like a naïve propaganda to divide Muslims. There is nothing wrong in saying ‘Ramzan’ or ‘Ramadan’ or ‘Ramalan’. I have seen another article saying that Muslims are started say “Qur’an” instead of ‘Kuran”. Let us use any word we like to use, do not pick on silly matters like this. We have bigger issues than this to worry. Lets not create Fitnah using these small matters.

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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.

Read more about his campaign.

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.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

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.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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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.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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