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Breaking Taboos: Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata Champions Menstrual Hygiene

A Durga Puja Pandal Showcasing a New Perspective

In the heart of Kolkata, where the vibrant spirit of Indian art and culture thrives, a Durga Puja pandal is making headlines for its extraordinary initiative. ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli,’ an 84-year-old puja committee, has taken a bold step in breaking societal taboos surrounding menstruation and promoting awareness about menstrual hygiene. 

This artistic endeavour aligns perfectly with the rich artistic heritage of Kolkata and Bengal, known for their iconic art forms such as Pattachitra and Kalighat. In this article, we’ll delve into how this groundbreaking pandal is challenging long-held biases and fostering a more inclusive and informed society.

This year, the ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli’ Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata has taken a step towards shattering the societal taboos surrounding menstruation and promoting awareness about menstrual hygiene. Amidst the myriad Durga Pujo pandals in the city, this one in Central Kolkata has emerged as a trailblazer, confronting a significant yet often disregarded issue—menstrual hygiene.

The Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata Shattering Taboos Through the ‘Ritumati’ Theme

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The ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli’ Durga Puja pandal has chosen the theme of ‘Ritumati,’ which translates to “menstruating woman.” This theme boldly reflects the commitment to raising awareness about menstrual hygiene and social issues that have long been shrouded in secrecy. The theme is a testament to Bengal’s legacy of embracing art as a medium for societal change.

The ‘Ritumati’ theme of the pandal highlights the organisers’ drive to dismantle the longstanding stigma attached to menstruation.

Empowering Perspective Through a Progressive Standpoint

Menstruation has been marred by numerous restrictions and misconceptions in our society. Women have been denied entry into kitchens, forbidden from sharing beds with their husbands, and sometimes even confined to their homes during their menstrual periods. People perpetuate these taboos due to a lack of education on personal health and hygiene during menstruation. The ‘Ritumati’ theme advocates for a shift in mindset, encouraging both boys and girls to view menstruation from a scientific perspective – as a natural biological process without the need for embellishment or secrecy.

A Multifaceted Artistic Expression Through This Durga Puja Pandal

Durga Puja Pandal
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This pioneering pandal project showcases the union of various art forms, emblematic of Bengal’s artistic diversity. This amalgamation of art forms resonates with the rich artistic tapestry of Bengal, where folk art, as well as iconic art forms like Pattachitra and Kalighat, have thrived for generations.

Speaking about the initiative, Ellora Saha, the working president of the ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli Sarbojanin Durgotsab’ committee, highlighted the pressing need to confront prevailing taboos. “Menstruation is a natural biological process, and there is no need to hide it. It’s high time we challenge these taboos, and the first step is to bring such issues to the forefront,” she asserted.

Ellora Saha further emphasised the need for comprehensive education, urging both genders to understand menstruation from a scientific viewpoint. She underlined the prevalence of restrictions and misconceptions, ranging from kitchen prohibitions to limitations on physical interactions during menstruation. She urged society to perceive menstruation as a normal biological process, without superstitions or unnecessary glorification.

The Creative Process: A Fusion of Art and Purpose

Rooted in installation art, featuring captivating paintings, models, and graphics, the creation of this revolutionary pandal was a three-month labour of love, requiring an investment of approximately ₹18 lakh. Manash Roy, the artistic force behind the project, emphasised, “Our puja pandal is centred on menstrual hygiene and weaves together various art forms.”

The meticulously crafted idols by Sanatan Paul of Kumartuli manifest this central theme. They highlight the crucial message of dismantling menstrual taboos. This project represents a holistic approach to art, culture, and societal change, mirroring Bengal’s commitment to fostering inclusivity and enlightenment.

Durga Puja Pandal in Kolkata: Challenging Deep-Rooted Biases

Durga Puja Pandal
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The ‘Pathuriaghata Pancher Palli’ Durga Puja pandal in Kolkata represents a courageous stride towards raising awareness and destigmatizing discussions surrounding menstruation. In the vibrant tapestry of Indian art and culture, this initiative aligns perfectly with the spirit of Navratri, a festival that celebrates the triumph of good over evil. As we celebrate Navratri, let us not forget the importance of breaking taboos and nurturing a society that is both enlightened and inclusive. This pandal serves as a powerful reminder of the transformative power of art and culture and its ability to challenge deep-seated biases and pave the way for a brighter, more inclusive future.

The pandal symbolises a significant stride towards raising awareness and destigmatizing discussions surrounding menstruation. It challenges deep-seated biases, taking us a step closer to fostering an inclusive and enlightened society.

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By Melissa D’Mello

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