Throughout the 20th century India underwent several political and cultural changes, including their independence from Britain in the 1940s and their declaration as a secularized nation. However, even secular India has been unable to remove itself from a religious practice that functions within it, the menstrual taboo. The Hindu menstrual taboo has survived for thousands of years, which begs the question: Are Hindu beliefs and values fundamentally Indian? The practice and history of Hinduism in India has informed the mistreatment and negative stigmas associated with women and menstruation. Restrictions are placed on menstruating women in India, including exclusion from religious spaces. The goal of this project will be to explore the different interpretations of not only the menstrual taboo but Hinduism in India and how it functions within the secular world to argue to what extent India is a secular nation. It will navigate through the 20th century, independence, secularization, and Hindu nationalism to show that Hindu practices and beliefs are in fact fundamentally Indian. I will use the attitudes towards and treatment of women, specifically the menstrual taboo, to show that the Hindu faith directly influenced what it meant to be Indian in the 20th century.
Advisor(s) or Committee Chair
Dr. Tamara Van Dyken
Hindu Studies | Social and Cultural Anthropology | Women's Studies
Norris, Jessie, "The Menstrual Taboo and Modern Indian Identity" (2017). Mahurin Honors College Capstone Experience/Thesis Projects. Paper 694.