Chaupadi tradition : Society, Religion & law


Chaupadi -Menstruation is a physical and biological process that occurs in all women of a certain age group around the world. Even so, attitudes, values, beliefs, understandings, and behaviors vary from country to country, society, and culture. During menstruation, a woman’s genitals bleed for about 4 days. Menstruation starts in adolescence (around 11-15 years) and lasts for about 42 years.

Bleeding in this way is called menstruation .Menstruation occurs about once in a month and about 13 times in a year. A woman menstruates for about 30 years of her life. This time is also the most active life span of a woman. Women should menstruate for about 7 days. In a period of 30 years, a woman menstruates about 390 times. Chaupadi

Chaupadi-Notes Nepal

During menstruation, she should observe menstruation for about 2,730 days or about eight years during her lifetime. Apart from this, certain rules like menstruation should be followed for about 11 days even during maternity. The average age of a Nepali woman is about 71 years. It is conceivable that menstruation lasts for about 8 years of active life.

Although historians and sociologists have not taken the subject as a natural and general subject of study and research, women continued to be victims of social, cultural and religious influences due to menstruation until the middle of the twentieth century.In the Karnali and far western regions of Nepal, menstruation is called chhaupi, moving, stretching, sidelining, being outside, not touching, while menstruating woman is called chaupadi.

Chaupadi is settled away from home. The place where Chaupadi lives is called Chhaugoth or Chhaukhullo. It is often dilapidated, cramped, dark, damp, and unsafe because of its temporary nature and away from home. Wild and domestic animals, snakes, and insects can easily enter.That is why the women of Chaupadi are losing their lives due to snake bites in famine and are becoming chronically ill. Inside the cowshed, they are suffocating and dying. Are being raped. They have to look at the situation where they have to be raped like themselves for the right to live with dignity.

In such a situation, the cowsheds are being demolished here, for years, but the practice of cowsheds is the same, it is unshakable. Here the physical bases of the cowsheds are being attacked which is causing the cowsheds to suffer more painful, inhuman, unimaginable pain as they are now relying on the open sky with the help of the cowsheds. Although the daily routine of demolishing the cowsheds has been going on for years, no effort has been made to find out the whereabouts of the cowsheds. Chaupadi

Chaupadi -Notes Nepal

Here, the current practice of chaupadi is termed as chaupadi practice. Chaupadi is not called an evil practice but it is registered as a criminal offense. Domestic and foreign mainstream newspapers have portrayed it as a Hindu evil practice. There is a large group of people who consider the practice of chaupadi as a practice which plays a decisive role in social decision making. They see many positive aspects of the Chaupadi practice. So why not take the necessary steps to eliminate the negative by eliminating the positive?Even if it is an evil practice in every way and in every way, why is it not possible to convey the same thing in everyone’s mind? Why aren’t the pros and cons related to this discussed?

It may be pertinent to quote the great social thinker Gayatri Chakraborty Spivak here. She said that the then colonial power had eradicated the practice of sati from India but at the same time the entire civilization of India was considered as inferior and undeveloped. Considering this statement in the context of the campaign to eradicate the practice of chaupadi, there is reason to doubt that there can be tension over social and cultural encroachment on the basis of chaupadi practice.

Chaupadi -Notes Nepal

In a similar context, Spivak goes on to say that the issues and problems of the Nimukhas should be represented by the Nimukhas themselves so that those problems and questions are truly represented and reflected. If these questions and problems are communicated in a distorted way, not in a real way, when they are represented by outsiders because they interpret or understand those questions and problems from their own point of view. They do not want or cannot reach the depths of reality.

The agency representing that reality should not have been developed in them. Based on this belief, it can be said that somewhere the real forms of Chhaupadi practice, the real factors behind it and the social psychology may be understood, represented and portrayed in an unrealistic and different way.

Chaupadi and society
An unmarried young woman with a bachelor’s degree in pedagogy from the Far West and Midwest said, “It is better to be born in a quadruped race than to endure the pain of menstruation in the human vagina as a woman.” asked the married woman, who had a bachelor’s degree in English literature in the area, why she was saying this, was it because of the natural pain she had to endure when she was pregnant, or for some other reason?

There are pains of behavioral behavior associated with Chhau. During menstruation, a woman changes her mind. Changes in the mental state also cause more pain. During the menstrual period, women often experience more mental stress than other days, which causes more pain. In her article “Feminist Criticism”, Louis Tyson, a professor at Presetton University and a feminist thinker, says it is difficult to distance oneself from patriarchal thinking and order in a patriarchal society. She goes on to say that in a patriarchal society, some women are so ‘programmed’ with masculine thought and law that they consider masculine domination, masculine thought and law to be their own thought and law, while those masculine thoughts and laws are extremely discriminatory against women.

Chaupadi -Notes Nepal

Tyson called women with such mental conditions “parathyroid-women.” These ‘patriarchal women’ are instrumental in enforcing patriarchal thinking. Women are not discriminated against because they are already immersed in patriarchal thinking. Their consciousness of discrimination against women is dead.To borrow this concept from Mr. Tyson and interpret it in our case, there is no such thing as a ‘paratrooper-woman’ in our society who is happily accepting the practice of chaupadi and helping to implement it in the social system.

The mothers and grandmothers of our society can be considered as ‘paratriarchal-women’. Most of them can’t even express any skepticism about the discriminatory practices and practices of women because they take those practices and practices as natural and normal, take it for granted and take pride in their duty to observe menstruation.They are not to blame for this developed mentality because the development of this mentality is the product of a patriarchal society. It may be thought that the state and the campaigners associated with this practice carry out various activities but they do not view the practice of chaupadi from this point of view.

Peter Sach, a proponent of the communitarian theory developed against individual liberalism, says that personal interests and freedom in society should be secondary to social interests in order to maintain non-selection in society. As Mr. Sach said, many believe that the practice of chaupadi is a problem of one class and not a problem of the whole society. Similarly, some people believe that if they do not follow the practice of chaupadi, epidemics and natural calamities will spread in the society.The inability to abandon the practice of chaupadi may also be due to the belief in the social interest associated with this practice. Therefore, for the overall social benefit, the practice of chaupadi may be in vogue.

“Society is a complex system,” says Talcan Parsons, a staunch figure in social functionalism. This complex system is formed by the combination and support of legal, economic, religious and political sub-systems in the society. The sub-systems are fulfilling the necessary objectives of the society. A change in one sub-system disrupts the whole social system. Societies that change between subgroups are unstable. Chaupadi practice is a link of a social system here.This change will change the overall complex social system. In this sense, it would be erroneous to look at and interpret the Chaupadi practice only from a single point of view as it is a social sub-system. Trying to eradicate it from the society is to break or nullify its correlation and cooperation with the sub-systems prevailing in the society. It is a complex task to balance the void created by trying to eradicate the chaupadi practice in the social sub-system.

Therefore, coordination and cooperation with every sub-system of the society is needed to eradicate this practice.

Chaupadi and religion
On January 6, Foreign read Sophie Cousin’s field report entitled “Hindu Chaupadi Practices: Risks and Disgust.” Such headlines have been published in national and international dailies since 2000. There was a lot of curiosity in my mind. Is this a Hindu practice? Are the measures and resources taken by the state and NGO appropriate and sufficient?Has the practice of chaupadi been studied in a thorough and detailed manner? Just like that. In any case, I was not prepared to accept this practice as the product of a single cause, such as religion or superstition or culture. The state and NGOs have invested a lot of resources to eradicate the practice of chaupadi but this practice is continuing.

Tulachi, 15, Jandhara, 15, and Amana, 14, pose for a photo in front of the entrance to a crawlspace under their home, which serves as their extended family’s chaupadi shelter, in Rima village. They share the space with the household’s herd of goats.

The French anthropologist Levi Strauss studied the myths prevalent in various countries of the continent, including Asia, Africa, and the Americas, and his study concluded that there were minimal similarities between the myths prevalent in different countries of the world. Which she named Mithim. On this basis, it could be said that the practice of chaupadi is not only prevalent in Nepal or especially in the Karnali and Far Western regions, but it is a worldwide practice even though the form and amount of kuriti associated with it may vary.

In 2007, M. Guttermann, P. Mehta, and M. Gibbs read an article in the Electronic Journal of World Health and Social Politics entitled ‘Menstrual Curiosity and the World’s Major Religions.’ “All major religions in the world, with few exceptions, have banned menstruating women in various ways,” she said in the article. Jews, Christians, Islam, Hindus, Buddhists all have their own ideas about menstruation. These ideas have restricted women in various ways.The restrictions range from menstruating women not being allowed to touch men, not being allowed to cook, not being allowed to worship, to staying away from human settlements. ‘

Ancient tribal religion and menstruation

In Indonesia’s Hulala tribal community, menstruating women are kept in huts set up to keep women away from the village when they are menstruating, where they are forbidden to hunt and have to bathe in a separate stream. Where men are not allowed to bath.They do all this to prevent harm to men (Hoskins 2002).Dongon women in the highlands near Mali have to live in huts built during menstruation and work hard in the fields. They are deprived of food by cooking their own food. chaupadi

Similarly, in the highland settlements of Papua New Guinea, it was the custom for women to have separate huts in each household during menstruation. (Stewart and Stathorn, 2002).

Jewish and menstruating
Among Jews, a menstruating woman is forbidden to walk between two men.There is a superstitious belief that if a menstruating woman walks between two men, there will be a fight between the men or if the walk is on the first day of menstruation, it will cause death. (Steinberg, 1996). It is believed that not only bleeding during menstruation but also the air around menstruating women is polluted.chaupadi.

Christian and menstruation

Most Christian denominations do not follow specific menstrual rules and regulations, but in the early days of Western culture, menstruating women were socially restricted, believing them to be dangerous. In 1878, the British Medical Journal claimed that menstruating women could be the cause of the stench of pigeon meat (Whelan, 1975). Similarly, Catholic canon law prohibits women or girls from playing the role of a “semi-sausage” in church prayers. Chaupadi

Even in conservative Russian Christian society, there are menstrual habits. In those societies, menstruating women have to live alone in a cramped hut away from home. They happen to be in churchDo not engage in activities and do not even touch men. Apart from this, raw and cooked food items are also not touched. It is believed that menstruation can change the way a woman looks when she is angry (Morou, 2005).

Islam and menstruation
There is a widespread belief in Islam that men should stay away from menstruating women. Menstruating women are forbidden to participate in religious rituals. Menstruating women do not go to the mosque, read the Koran, or fast during Ramadan (Fisker, 1978, Maghen, 1999).

Hinduism and menstruation
The Hindu religion considers menstruating women to be unclean or polluted. A menstruating woman is placed in a hut away from home. They are forbidden to cook food, touch water, touch fruits, worship, go to temples (Furth and Suresh, 1992). After the day of menstruation, women are again considered normal.

In Buddhism, menstruation is considered to be a natural once-a-month physical and biological process in women (Buddhist Education Association, 2004). However, Hindu traditions and practices seem to have had some effect on Buddhism. In Taiwan, a menstruating woman is considered unclean. Even in Japan and China, there are various menstrual disorders (Lhamo, 2003). Chaupadi

There is a great deal of similarity between the major religions of the world regarding menstruation. However, in practical life, the nature and quantity of their use varies greatly. Due to the religious concept, it cannot be said that menstrual disorders are prevalent in the society.

Chaupadi and law
Nepal is a party to the nine major international conventions on human rights. As a party to these conventions, Nepal is obliged to enact and enforce laws against discriminatory and degrading treatment.The Constitution of Nepal provides for the right against discrimination and abusive behavior.

Nepal’s Supreme Court In the year 2062 BS, Decision No. 7531 has been issued in the name of the Government of Nepal. The National Criminal Code Act 2074 has registered the misconduct related to menstruation. The law provides for imprisonment for up to three months or a fine of up to Rs 3,000 or both.Chaupadi

Different theories of criminology have their own beliefs about what kind of criminalization of human behavior, although one of them is common: Mr. Andrzej von Hilrich, a proponent of liberal criminology Should. Such behaviors should be criminalized only after all these measures have failed completely, but the law should not be taken as a last resort to control criminal human behaviors.

In a country like ours where the implementation of the law is weak and low, it is doubtful that the law will be the last resort. Prada, a lecturer in criminal law in this regard. Ranjit Bhakt Pradhanang says that more than 700 laws have been made in Nepal which even the judges of the Supreme Court are ignorant about.

The use and implementation of these laws has been minimal.To what extent did the state adopt adequate models of social, cultural, moral, religious and conscious development to reduce the practice of Chaupadi? Has the state criminalized this practice as a last resort to eradicate the practice of chaupadi after all the models have failed? In that case, is the practice of Chaupadi in the process of eradication with the full implementation of the law on Chaupadi? Will the laws against Chaupadi be the last resort?

Chaupadi practice, social beliefs and superstitions
Deborah Winslow (1980) in her article “The First Menstrual Ritual in Sri Lanka” explains the ritual performed by a teenager during her first menstrual period in Sri Lanka. In the ritual, the menstruating girl is given new clothes and sweets and Dakshina in detail. Similar traditions exist in many parts of the Karnali and Far Western regions.It is customary to give new clothes and sweets on the fourth day of menstruation when a daughter is menstruating for the first time.

Surprisingly, in a society where people happily give gifts and sweets during menstruation, why do they go away when they have menstruation (Harish R. 2016)? In his article “Superstitions in Society and Ways to Eliminate Them”, he says that superstitions arise in certain periods and circumstances.

The superstitions prevailing in the society should be explained along with the same period and situation, the way he said to debunk. Rights activist Babita Basnet also says in Harish RK’s rhythm, “Society was patriarchal in the jungle era, although women were forbidden to hunt during menstruation.” They had to stay in a certain place because the smell of menstrual bleeding was attacked by wild animals. There were no clothes in that era. Chaupadi

So to save the women from the wild animals, the men started going hunting in the huts. But unfortunately that hut became a barn in the twenty-first century. In the same way, there is a need today to debunk menstrual habits.It is also sometimes heard that women express happiness as they do not have to cook for four days after menstruation and stay away from sexual intercourse. Nowadays, women in the district, town, village head quarters and the surrounding areas are gradually found living in separate huts inside the house.

Which is also a positive thing. With the rising literacy rate and public awareness level, the society seems to be becoming more liberal towards Chaupadi than in the past. However, they are still forced to live a hellish and painful life in remote settlements due to the chaupadi culture.

The practice of chaupadi is associated with the superstitions prevalent in the society. There are various beliefs and practices related to menstruation in the world, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism and Hinduism, society and culture.Women are being victimized as there are no menstrual norms in the leading societies at the level of human and social development or there are still menstrual norms in the societies where the pace of social development is slowing down and lagging behind in development. The low incidence of menstruation in the eastern and urban areas of Nepal and the high incidence of menstruation in the Karnali and Far Western regions are vivid examples of this.


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