I recently read an article that in Nepal, a vast majority of girls and women practice Chhaupadi, or are banished to a shed during their menses. This stems from a belief that girls and women are impure during their menstrual cycle. Thus, they are ostracized by their family during this time, and are forbidden from engaging in many everyday duties such as: cooking, attending school, or sleeping inside of the families home.
However, in my small community here in Fiji, I was happy to learn that instead of shaming young boys and girls for events such as circumcision and getting one’s menses, it is a occasion to be celebrated. In Fiji, when a boy gets circumcised or a girl first begins her menstrual cycle, family, neighbors and friends gather from near and far to join in on what is considered to be a joyous occasion. This is because the Fijian culture associates circumcision and the menstrual cycle with the turn of a boy becoming a man or a girl blossoming into a woman. And on the fourth night of the happening, it is typical for families to go through much work to prepare a feast, lovo style – which is an earth oven, and drink grog and talanoa – tell stories, late into the night.
While the results are vastly different in the sort of reaction conjured up by the communities in Nepal and Fiji surrounding one’s menstrual cycle, it portrays just how prominent of a role cultural beliefs play and are reinforced in a society of people.
Here are pictures of a celebration that I recently attended.