What does this menstruating goddess wants to convey?
Have you ever heard a goddess bleed? Okay, I will put it this way. Have you ever heard an idol bleeding? If you think that I sound nonsensical, then please read this.
In the southern Indian state of Kerala, on the banks of the river Pamba, there is this place called Chengannur famous for its Mahadevan temple. The main deities in the temple are Mahadevan (Lord Shiva) and Bhagawati (Goddess Parvati). Among several rituals that take place in this temple, one has drawn me deeply towards it. Maa Bhagawati, just like the way every woman, goes through the menstrual cycle. Once a blood stain is spotted on the holy clothing of Devi, the eldest woman of a Brahmin family, Thazman Matt, is called upon to confirm if the Devi is indeed menstruating. Once confirmed, Parvati’s idol is shifted into a small room off the sanctum sanctorum, keeping the main temple closed for three days.
Again, these three days, it's not that the deity doesn't receive any religious ceremonies, she is decorated magnificently with flowers, is glorified with lamps and is reverently showered with the vibrancy of chants. On the fourth day, she is taken to the river Pamba for a holy bath after which she is accompanied back to the shrine by thousands of male and female devotees, on an elephant in a grand procession. Once Devi reaches the temple entrance, she is welcomed by Lord Shiva who comes out of the temple on an elephant to receive her. The deity couple will then encircle the shrine thrice. After the procession ends, Lord Shiva enters the temple through the eastern side while Bhagawati enters through the western side.
In a country where menstruation is a taboo and menstruating women are considered impure, imposing on them, several regulations, this type of ritual is an eye-opener as it gives a message that 'periods are worth celebrating'.