Period Myths 3 – Do Not Touch Pickles and Water

In this series I would explore, the practices followed in our society regarding menstruation/periods.  These practices make me cringe but it is amazing how these continue to be followed by our society even today.

It is amazing how people think you are going to contaminate and spoil the entire bottle/batch of pickles/water just by touching them when you have periods.

Our neighbors used to make pickles and dry them in the sun daily. Once the girl who used to collect the pickles from the terrace got her periods and she had to come to me to help her bring them down to her house as she could not touch them ( after verifying that I did not have periods). I think it is plain ridiculous. I remember, she even called me downstairs to help her fill water in a jug, because touching the pot of water would contaminate the entire water. Seriously, I thought water borne diseases were due to bacteria, but if this could solve our water contamination problems, imagine free clean water forever if only men handled it.

I once, went to this girl’s house ( in a city, educated and with highly educated parents) and  I asked for water to drink. She called her brother to serve me water as she was allowed to touch it. I was shocked and she commented that they are Brahmins and they follow all this “Acharams” (customs and rules). Her dad insists on these rules, rather than her mother, who is more liberal.

I have relatives ( again well educated and travel abroad a lot), who do not let you touch yogurt or milk or other things like when you have periods.

I know lot of other instances, where women are prevented from touching water/pickles during menses.

I can assure you, nothing happens when you touch water or pickles. They do not get spoilt. I have lived alone and touched and used all my pickles and milk and nothing has happened to them.

I wonder how we women let men dictate what we should do during periods, when they do not even menstruate? Why do we still follow all this? What if she just plain refused to do it? What is the worst that could happen? Why are women even perpetuating this to their families? If we were to accrue sin, if we did not follow these practises, why do we even have periods in the first place. Religion is okay but to let it restrict the most natural processes and demean them is wrong.

Read more articles in this series here.

27 thoughts on “Period Myths 3 – Do Not Touch Pickles and Water

  1. It isn’t men who are forcing you to do this stuff. All the examples given are aunties and other women. If you don’t like it then stop doing it and teaching it to your children.

    1. Actually, I have seen men and women insist on following some of this stuff and I did point out how women are also allowing this stuff to perpetuate. It is quite easy to say ‘Don’t do it’ but when an entire system is against you, it is quite difficult for 1 person to fight it out.

  2. I absolutely agree with you. The last time I went to my hometown in Bangladesh, I had a sudden unexpected period in those days when I didn’t want it to happen. Because you can understand I was staying in my relative’s house, and if I get my menstruation during a stay in a relative’s house I face a lot of inconvenience with discarding my used pads, and even asking for more pads in case they are over. So, when I first realized that my pants were stained with blood, I went to my sister-in-law and asked her to help me with a pad, because I wasn’t carrying one. As soon as she learned about my periods, she went straight to my Aunt (her mother-in-law and my father’s elder sister) and informed her that I was having period. Then.OMG they started behaving as if I was having a contagious disease. I was immediately sent to the bathroom for shower, all the clothes, towels, and even the dupatta that were touched by me were chucked in the bathroom for washing. I mean I didn’t even use them, C’mon. How could a touch impurize things around you just because you’re going through periods. I was allowed to touch things around me only after my shower, and the next day again I wasn’t allowed to tough anything before taking my shower first thing in the morning. I thought they were very conservative and narrow-minded, but I thought it wasn’t a wise idea to argue, both out of embarrassment and respect for those in who’s house I was staying. Period is a natural process which every woman goes through, If it was something nasty or something to be hated of then God wouldn’t have given us periods at the first place. I don’t follow these conventional rules when I am in my house, and I can’t find anything that has gone wrong by touching things during period, and even my parents are liberal minded, so they don’t put such restrictions. thank God!

    1. That is so not a nice experience to have! It is extremely irritating and one of the reasons I do not like staying in other people’s house.

  3. I don’t believe in these stupid rules bcoz its many times when I was in periods but touched pickels and water but nothing was spoilt

  4. I also strongly oppose these superstitious taboos but the thing I’ve experienced by my own is the pickle which was good from many days got spoil after two days when I touched during my menstruation cycle and other things if you’ve listened about like “moong daal badi” its colour changed which is normally yellow to red when I touched during my period normally it never get spoil, and during my sis-in-law’s wedding I just filled the freshly prepared “khasta kachoris” for her new home in a huge jar and just then I didn’t realised that my period came that time and it(kachoris) got spoil in just 2-5 days which normally last for at least a month.

    So what’s all this can you explain? I am strongly opposing all the superstitious beliefs which normally practiced by narrow minded families including mine but co-incidences like these makes me always questioned that why and how do the natural process in a woman which actually determines the identity of a woman can inhibit good things to exist.

    1. Simply put, correlation is not causation.

      The rate of burglaries and sale of ice cream is high in summer. That does not mean that ice cream results in higher number of burglaries. Just because I wore a certain dress and it rained on that particular day without explanation does not mean that my dress resulted in rain.

    2. are u freaking kidding me,,,,,its not about periods but hygiene,,,its not that you touched the pickles or kachoris during periods that they got spoiled,,,but maybe its the way you handled them,,,,personal hygiene depends on person to person,so maybe you were not careful in handling them,,Also,,what if the other people in the house are responsible for it,,,how can you be sure that its you,,,,I mean women in foreign nations do not follow these norms,I dont follow these norms and food at my house is fresh and still goin on,,,so these norms have no base!!!!,,,

    3. When u get periods ur body temperature is different when u compared 2 normal temperature,that results on the food and other particles which we use daily that is the scientific reason of these all beliefs and it is also proved many times

  5. Oh god I wonder why people blog without sufficient research. Naturally made home made pickles which are not refrigerated get spoilt. And you think our ancestors were fools. Sorry to say but people like you are the reason why our traditions are vanishing inspite of proving useful.

    1. Naturally home made pickles need not be refrigerated. They are preserved by the presence of lots of salt. Please get your principles right before you diss here. Where did I specify that our ancestors were fools?
      I am all for useful common sense traditions but I do not support blind following or useless stuff. Traditions vanishing – oh I wonder why dowry/ preference for sons and other evil traditions do not vanish but useful ones do.

      1. Really it was the fantastic reply. I also got shocked when the people who dont believe these all they all have not suffered by touching pickeles and water. Its a disgusting superstition

  6. I have touched and made pickles during my periods. the pickles were delicious as always. they stayed a good 2 yrs before the bottle was emptied and licked clean!
    such ridiculous customs we have!! eesh!
    it makes zero sense really. Where is the logic?!

  7. Well, as ridiculous or illogical it may sound but the thing about pickle seems to be correct.

    But the author of this post has misunderstood the concept, its not the actual pickle but the material used for preparing the pickle should not be touched.

    I am a firm believer in science and do not believe in any of the ortohodox myths but I was blown away by the incident that happened right in front of me…

    I still cant believe this happened, but it all happened right in front of me…

    So, my wife was visiting her parents and my mom decides to prepare pickel at home….and asked my wife to get raw mango “kairi” while returning to our home….my mom and her mom knew she was on period so she was specifically instructed not to touch the “kairis” …while leaving my in-laws house younger brother in-law “sala” carried the bag of mangoes to the car…

    While on the way i talked with my wife about how ridiculous this practice was….we got down at our home while i carried her bags she mistakenly took the mangoes bag and within seconds gave it to me..realizing she has made a mistake.

    I laughed at her and took the bag…same day the pickel was prepared…enjoyed the pickle for two days and on the third day Booom!!!! nickel goes bad!

    I do not know how this can be explained but it did happen.

    1. This kind of coincidences are the reason these kind of superstitions persist. Correlations is not equal to causation. Just because someone ate an apple and they got a heart attack the next day does not mean the apple caused the heart attack. People have been saying similar stuff 2000 years ago.

      When millions of women around the world are not following these rituals and all their pickles seem to be okay, I don’t see any problems.

      1. Hi I am from Western Pennsylvania USA. I grew up on a farm and we canned much of our own food. When learning how to pickle my mother and grandmother said you couldn’t touch anything if you were menstruating because it would spoil. I was 10 and never asked why.we are of Irish and English descent. They are gone now so I Googled for the answer. I had to make pickles last month and they seem okay so far.

  8. many girls including myself go through painful periods.. all that I like to do is to take rest during those 2-3 days..
    Had there been no such rules, girls would have to work even on their periods.. earlier there were no sanitary napkins like today. so more discomfort in the cloth napkins. have you seen the huge pickle jars? they are so huge.. lifting them on my periods would be the last thing I would like to do.. same with the water jars that women carry over long distance in the rural areas. so these rules are there to allow women some compulsory rest from all their daily chores.. everything from washing clothes to cleaning the house etc..

    In a society where women’s concerns and problems are seldom heeded, these rules at least give them some rest during periods.. otherwise they would have been forced to work even during periods..

    However, I strongly feel that these rules have done more bad than good resulting in superstitions and negative attitude towards womanhood.. It would have been far better had people been asked to let women rest during periods rather that crowding people’s minds with such false beliefs.. but may be the makers of these rules thought that it would be more effective to scare people in order to allow compulsory rest-time to women…

    1. “Had there been no such rules, girls would have to work even on their periods” – If somebody is not feeling well, you would not make them work na? The issue here is treating women as sub par to humans. You get cramps & feel sick, then go ahead & rest. There is not need to treat people are impure, get irritated at them because they have periods. You do not need to lift “huge” pickle jars, you can put a spoon inside the pickle jar & take the pickle you want. Women are not allowed to do that. You do not need to lift heavy water jugs. Women are not allowed to put a glass inside & take water from the jug because they will pollute it. Imagine, you are alone in the house, you are crampy & you cannot touch water & you are dying of thirst. That is primordial.

      If they wanted to give rest to women, why did they not say – anybody who feels sick, take rest? That means they were acknowledging the fact that women, even if they are feeling unwell were not treated at par with men who were feeling unwell. So, it was gender discrimination at play there already.

      These kind of explanations are used to justify that our rituals/culture were not so bad but due to misinterpretation, we are thinking that they are bad. Many ideas, including communism started as good. We have to be able to evaluate how it is being practiced now.

  9. I also don’t believe in all this. . If the only thing which should follow is cleanliness and be hyegenic. . What about those men who don’t take bath for a week. .

    1. Ha ha, and do not wash their clothes for more than a week coz their mams are not there to wash them? Some smell so bad that people crinkle their noses when they pass by but they are more pure than menstruating women because they have something you don’t 😉

  10. I am on my periods right now and I touched the pickle for my dinner yesterday despite of what elders tell me….I dont believe in all this stupid stuff…and i cant wait to tell everyone that it didnt get spoiled !

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