Dr. Ambedkar

Why are Hindu women not allowed to enter prayer areas like temples while they are menstruating?

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Why are Hindu women not allowed to enter prayer areas like temples while they are menstruating?

For those 3-5 days in a month they do not enter the prayer rooms in the houses, enter temple grounds, etc. It must have had some sanitary reasons back in the day but for a natural process it is an awfully sexist tradition. BY Vamsi Emani

According to Bhagavatha Purana, Indra had once disrespected Brihaspathi who was the Guru of all the devas. As a result of this sin, the asuras (demons) easily conquered the heavens and Indra lost his kingdom and glory. When he took refuge in Brahma, the latter insisted Indra to consider serving a young lad who is a brahmagnaani as his guru temporarily until Brihaspathi is pleased. This young lad’s mother was a demon. He was having maternal affection for the demon clan and was giving the yagna-havis (which is consumed by the devas) to the demons too. Seeing this, Indra killed the young boy in a fit of rage. As the boy was in the position of a guru, Indra had invited upon himself the heinous of all sins, brahmahatyapathaka (killing a guru).

The sin took the shape of a demoness that followed and haunted Indra wherever he ran. Finally he hid himself within a flower and remained inside the closed flower for one lakh years performing penance to Lord Vishnu. Even then after, he was freed from the trouble of the demoness but he was not cleansed from the sin of brahmahatya. To get rid of this sin and earn his kingdom back he has requested the presiding deities of water, trees, earth and women to take a quarter of the sin. In turn he promised that he would grant boons to all of them. So, this was agreed upon.

The presiding deity of all the trees trees had accepted a quarter portion of the sin. The tree sap which oozes out of the tree bark is the form of brahmahatya and is considered as impure. For bearing this sin, Indra granted a boon to all the trees that they can regenerate and regrow as long as they are not uprooted.


Varuna took a quarter of the sin. The froth or foam that gets developed on water is considered as impure as it represents the brahmahatya. Even while a Hindu performs achamana, if the water has foam on it, it is dropped down. This is the reason for it. Indra granted purity for water as a boon for accepting the sin. It is said that it is because of this boon that water has got so much of importance w.rt to purification in all Hindu rituals.

Bhoo devi took an other quarter of the sin. As a result earth lost its state of complete fertility to give rise for barren lands that denote brahmahatya. The boon given to earth was the ability to refill its cavities over a period of time. Women living in that aeon have accepted the last quarter. As a result they and their progeny had to experience the menstrual cycle once in a month which denotes brahmahatya. As a boon women were granted a boon that they would derive more pleasure in sex than men. According to Hinduism, God cannot be seen or realized without a Guru. Guru is the one who reveals divinity to a person. Menstrual cycle denotes the sin of killing a guru. So women are forbidden to see God or indulge in divine acts during that period for its sign of impurity.

It is not intended to be a sexist thing really. Many a times, even men are not allowed to perform any rituals during some occasions like death, etc. It is just a matter of purity of the body and has nothing to do with gender per se. As far as I know, I’ don’t think men in India use this as a basis for gender discrimination. It is up to the individual whether to follow or not to follow the tradition of keeping distance during the cycle. As someone above said, it is not like people sentence you to death when you don’t follow it. (Thank God! Hinduism is not so extreme) But devout Hindus do follow the tradition inspite of knowing that it is a natural process. Because most Hindu traditions like lighting lamps, drawing rangoli with flour in houses, et al also have scientific reasons behind them which were proven by science very recently. Until then, people followed the word of the rishis with faith. Likewise, even this tradition might have an intricate scientific explanation which might come into light at some point of time, hopefully.




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