Delhi’s first ‘Pad Yatra’ busts stigma around menstruation
On a sunny February morning, sitting amid thousands of students at Central Park in Connaught Place, 15-year-old Priya Kumari pledged to never use euphemisms for menstruation. The class 8 student at a government school in Vasundhra Enclave has always been told to refer to her menstrual cycle as “them” or “those” because of the perceived stigma surrounding it.
On Tuesday, after participating in Delhi’s first “period fest” or “Pad Yatra”, she realised she did not have to be ashamed about her monthly cycle. “My mother always asked me to use “code words” for my period as she thinks it’s a matter of shame. I have never understood her logic. Today, after attending this huge gathering celebrating menstruation, I have understood that we should not be ashamed of telling people when we are on our monthly cycle. It’s a part of our life and we should discuss it to bust myths surrounding it,” she said.
Sitting next to her was Raj Lakshmi, 13, a class 7 student of another government school in east Delhi. She said, “People consider menstruation a “ghost”. I have heard my grandmother saying that girls are “impure” when they are on their period. We need to change this mindset.”
Around 3,000 students from 50 government and five private schools in the city participated in the “period fest” organised by NGO Sachhi Saheli, in association with the Delhi government. The students performed street plays and dramas to sensitise people. Students also took out a “pad yatra” carrying pad-shaped placards and banners with messages like “She’s never gonna whisper about her periods”.
“It is only with hesitation that one starts a discussion about menstrual cycle, if at all. So, it is important to remember that as girls and women, we should never be ashamed of our period — instead we should be proud,” Dr Surbhi Singh, founder of Sachhi Saheli and a gynecologist, said.
Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia, who was the chief guest at the event, urged students to become “ambassadors” to spread awareness about menstruation. “I urge each one of you to become brand ambassadors of this message to eradicate shame and the silence surrounding periods,” he said.
A “pad zone” was also set up to make visitors, especially boys and men, aware about the “period management options”. “I did not know the harms of using a cloth during menstruation. Today, I got to know of it through a street play,” Sudhandhu Kumar, a class 9 student of Amity International School, Noida, said.
Explaining the idea behind choosing February 5 to celebrate “menstrual health”, Ritika of Sachhi Saheli said, “We chose February because it has 28 days just like our period cycle and we picked 5 as the date because, normally, our period last for five days,” she said. The NGO, along with the Delhi government, has announced it will organise the fest every year on the same date.