Hi & Sat Sri Akal friend, dost, bhanji, bhaji, and bhxjis. Thanks for taking the time to read this short article about Sikhism, period blood, and mxnstrual health. I’m on a journey to support self-care for women and all genders, especially when it comes to our periods and mxnstrual cycles. In doing research for my new book Self-Care Down There, I learned some really uplifting ideas about mxnstruation and Sikhism that I just have to share with you.
Sikhism is a spiritual faith where scriptures and everyday life are based on gender equality. Born in the Punjab area of modern-day India and Pakistan, the first Sikhs were frustrated with the patriarchal interpretations of religion that were causing a lot of war at the time (Note that there are lots rad folx who are sharing and practicing rad women-centered, queer, masc-femme balanced interpretations of the Vedas, Quran, and more!).
The first Gurus (leaders in the Sikh faith) really emphasized the power and beauty of mxnstruation or mahvari ਮਾਹਵਾਰੀ, childbirth, and more processes of the female-assigned pelvis. Much of my learning about this comes from Nikky Guninder Kaur Singh who writes, “the Khalsa is not created from individual parts of the body…but through the natural, [metaphorically] maternal process, with all its emotions, complexities, and hormonal effects”.
Excitingly, there is also no condemnation of queerness, homosexuality, and more diverse sexualities by the original Sikhs. Although, like the Abrahamic texts, modern day Sikhism practiced in Gurdwaras (Sikh temples) is quite patriarchal (are you seeing the pattern?) For example, in some major cities of India, women and mxnstruators are discouraged from entering the temple when they are on their periods.
Moreover, in North America and beyond, Sikh sex education has been pretty much non-existent or promote hetero-normativity like only-sex-after marriage, periods-only-for-pregnancy, or-hai-lok-ki-sochu-gai?!?. The emphasis that our ancestors put on vaginal and pelvic wellbeing has diminished over the years. This is not just something that we as Sikhs are unlearning… the whole world is trying to support the resurgence of the divine feminine energy in all of us.
It’s true! We are envisioning and practicing gender equality around the world. I say we, because it’s going to take the collective to spread them further and wider into body-mind-spirit. Gurdwaras are introducing free period products in bathrooms, offering sex-education, and maybe even one day there will be more Gayanis who are matriarchs and non-binary folks who start the Ardaas by acknowledging the life force of periods and cycles.
I wonder, can we create a resurgence together?
If you are interested in joining the mxnstrual and pelvic health movement, you can order your e-copy or print copy of my new book Self-Care Down There. In it I share 100+ self-care tips that you can do easily at home or as busy people on the go. The knowledge comes from emerging science and ancestral teachings from South Asia and beyond. Partial profits go to charities who promote sustainable mxnstrual health education across the planet, with a focus on Canada, India, and Pakistan.
If you are wondering why I use “x” instead of “e” in mxnstruation check out my brief explanation here.
Sacred Self-Care Tip: Find yourself in a comfortable position. Start to tune into the rhythm of your breath. Then, take 10-15 minutes to reflect on the following questions. What kinds of statements and stories are told about the vagina and it’s powers in the Guru Granth Sahib and other scriptures? What were the Gurus, sisters, wives, non-binary mentors, and followers original intentions with Sikhism? How are modern teachings different? How do we talk about and learn about mxnstruation in our Sikh households? What are you taking from these teachings, and what’s ready to be let go?
Taqdir (Taq) Kaur Bhandal ਤਕਦੀਰ ਕੌਰ ਭੰਡਾਲ is the CEO and founder of IM With Periods, and author of Self-Care Down There: An All Genders Guide to Vaginal Wellbeing. She teaches and writes about the 4 seasons of mxnstrual cycles, pelvic wellness, and overall health. She’s also a dog lady, passionate about nachos & nach (dance), who lives in Vancouver/Coash Salish Lands & Halifax/Mi’kmaw Treaty Territory.