In India, menstrual cycles are still mentioned in a hush-hush tone. The taboo restricts urban women to discuss menstrual cycles openly. In a lot of places, women are considered impure during this period. They are restricted from entering the kitchen, cooking, touching pickle, touching or getting close to Holy books or Puja room or even sleeping on a mattress. It is almost that the women feel forced to feel apologetic about such a natural and beautiful aspect of their lives and live with the most known secret.
It gets trickier to create awareness when one struggles to find an audience willing to shun the apprehension and to begin with, just listen. If the topic can’t be broached, how does one create awareness on menstrual hygiene, pain relief, mood management and tips to look after oneself? Art of Living Foundation’s Pavtira Project, the name itself means purity, aims to do just that. It intends to make women confident, shun the myths, embrace this aspect of womanhood and focus on their health and hygiene. Reshma Tandon, an entrepreneur from Nainital, takes us through her journey with the Pavitra Project that enabled her to reach out to close to 650 girls within a matter of two weeks.
Reshma has a showroom of woollen garments and is an Art of Living Foundation’s volunteer. She has been a part of the Happiness Women’s Collective for Underprivileged Women and Children. The initiative looked at arranging vocational courses for women and train them to make diyas, paper bags etc. Further, sessions with gynaecologist to speak on hygiene were arranged. General check ups were conducted for the underprivileged women. They are now planning to organise a health camp.
Reshma was doing her bit for the society. She had no clue about the beautiful direction her life was about to take. She chanced upon Ria Tayal’s writeup on inviting interested people to be a part of this project. Reshma was short of time yet she realised that Pavitra Project is the need of the hour. “ I was very clear that I would take this up only for a month or two when my workload is less during the off-season time. By Gurudeva Sri Sri Ravishankar ji’s grace, things fell into place and I have been able to take back-to-back courses and have some more lined up,” she said. Reshma felt that the courses beautifully fit into her schedule and she also found the energy to keep going. “All of this was Gurudev’s grace,” she added.
Elaborating on the Pavitra Project, she said, “ Pavitra Project reaches out to girls from age 10 to 19. They are taught pranayams that will help them manage their moods and ensure emotional wellbeing. We suggest healthy eating options that will help them out during their menstrual cycles. We give them homely tips and exercises that will help them manage pain and we create awareness on menstrual hygiene.”
The project comprises of an hour and a half every day for three days. She says the icebreaking takes a day. On the first day of the project, they find the girls giggling and somehow managing it through the session. On the second day, they begin to talk and by the third day, they blossom into confidence and do enactments and share their stories. “It is such a beautiful journey of three days and the transformation is heart-warming,” Reshma added.
“I felt Gurudev’s grace flowing. I came to realise that I just need to do my bit and everything else will be taken care of. Things happened with such good energy and so flawlessly, it has been beautiful,” she said and one could sense contentment and gratitude trickle down her voice.
Reshma wants to now reach out to nearby villages with the Pavitra Project. Kudos to her journey of spreading awareness and smiles!
– Shubham Shukla