DESCRIPTION OF THE RITUAL:
In Telangana, a south Indian state, families celebrate when their daughters reach puberty or menarche. There are many names but the earliest name is Ritusuddhi, also known as Ritu Kala Samskara. A saree ceremony is marked after a girl menstruates for the first time. It is considered a milestone in a girl’s life as she becomes a lady. During the saree ceremony, the girl wears a saree for the first time. It is celebrated in southern India where girls take a step towards womanhood. People believe in deeming the girl physically and spiritually.
It is a ritual a where ladies perform various rituals and celebrations within the function. The saree ceremony is celebrated with the blessings of relatives, friends, and cousins. The girl for whom the function is kept is meant to wear a half saree. Basically, when the function starts, the girls wear a langa voni.
Langa voni is a traditional dress of the South of India. It is also called the half saree and involves a flared skirt, blouse, and a dupatta draped like a saree. The girl is then supposed to change her half saree and wear a gifted one from her relatives.
Gifts have a bunch of importance during the saree ceremony. There are only a few certain kinds of gifts which can be given to the girl and which are appreciated by her family. Out of those, the half saree is something which is of utmost importance as she must change it in the other half of the ceremony. Usually, the elder women of the family gift the half saree to the girl.
The girl is supposed to wear a langa voni or half saree until her marriage. She is typically expected to wear the half saree during different occasions and functions. After marriage, she usually wears a proper saree.
The question that arises in our minds is Why do only South Indians (Tamil, Telugu, etc., speaking) perform this ritual in India and why not other states? It is a relevant question, and it is due to misunderstandings and the lack of knowledge provided by our gurus and priests (past and present) that this ritual is not given its deserved importance and made known to the general Hindu populace. It is due to a lack of knowledge and understanding that this ritual is not practiced outside India and completely within India too. This is particularly worrisome. Also, the topic of menstruation is not spoken about much yet and persons of tarnished demeanor can enter a temple while a female in her menstruation cycle cannot.
This ceremony is the last part of the coming of age celebration for a female. Due to a lack of knowledge and understanding, this important prayer is generally only followed by South Indian families. This ritual is performed after the young female first menstruation and marks her transition into womanhood. The transition from childhood to adulthood in any culture is a reason to celebrate, although different cultures may do so in ways, they deem fit, according to their beliefs and value systems. The cultural beliefs and practices of our society are what make us unique and what gives us an identity. Most Hindu ceremonies are performed by men, but this ritual is performed by females only. It is a very joyous time for the family. The south part do-follow matriarchy so this ritual has great importance. Whereas in patriarchal families, the celebration is considered to be normal.
- The celebration of this ritual imparts a very positive notion about menstruation in the mind of the female. The female is treated with much love and care and is given gifts. She is worshipped as Supreme Goddess with aarti. They are also welcomed into womanhood along with puberty in a positive and welcoming spirit. She is made to feel confident and happy with her feminine identity.
- It also Imparts knowledge that equips the young female well to adjust to her oncoming physical and emotional changes during puberty; imparting knowledge regarding various menstruation practices that she should follow and the reasons and benefits of those practices.
MY POINT OF VIEW
Ever since I read about this ritual and the thought process behind it, I have been in awe. Maybe it would have been normal and not so amazing if the practice would have been still carried out all over the country. The topic of menstruation and periods is not openly spoken about even in the 21st century.
There is also a need to promote this ritual. People do consider it to be taboo if something is natural and happens with every female. Ritu Kala Samskara also allows the female to get ready for all changes that are to come. It is very important for the girl who got her first period to be aware of all this. She should not feel like she’s dirty or done something wrong. This may also be the result of “modernization” and “convent education” that takes on Christian ideas of taboo subjects and impurity.
But, if we were to consider the essence of the traditions and the knowledge preserved in them on their own standing, it will become clear that the Hindu ceremonies associated with the onset of menstruation perceive menstruation and menstruating women in a highly positive manner. It associates menstruation with womanhood and a woman’s ability to give birth to live.