Arpo Arthavam, the two-day event celebrating menstruation, was inaugurated in Kochi by the four trans women who entered Sabarimala Temple recently - Avantika, Trupti, Renju and Ananya. There was music before that on a stage in Marine Drive to begin the celebrations of an event that began as a hashtag campaign at the time of the Supreme Court verdict that lifted a ban on women of menstruating age from visiting the Sabarimala Temple.
But the problem is much larger, it goes beyond Sabarimala – the taboos on menstruation are so many, and so old, but still observed in one form or another, subtly or otherwise. Dalit activist Rekha Raj, who was one of the first speakers at the event, talking on ‘Menstruation, Faith and Constitution’, spoke of addressing the issue as a first step.
“Many say they don’t know how to do that, or if it is their place to do that. Beginning to address the issue is therefore the first step,” she said. Rekha spoke of how when an argument arose about the anti-women approach in Sabarimala, the oppressed castes who have gone through lots took a new political stance. “Punnala Sreekumar (of the KPMS) accepted the Supreme Court verdict immediately. SNDP too had more or less accepted it. It is their recognition of the attempts to destroy the political rights of the lower caste and reinstate neo-Brahminism.”
Others who spoke on the topic are Daya Gayathri, a trans woman student, Former Gujarat DGP RB Sreekumar, CPI(ML)’s PC Unnichekkan etc. Dhyan, a trans man, spoke of being a man having menstruation.
Music and art are part of the celebrations. There is a painting exhibition ‘Nanma Vara’ by Bejoy SB. Folk singer Kovan and gang from Tamil Nadu who became famous through their Vinavu song, questioning the opposition of women’s entry in Sabarimala, took the stage next. Trans women danced on the stage.
In the afternoon, the talk was on ‘Menstruation: Society, Experience’. The menstruation rally that was taken out at 3.30pm too has concluded. Director Pa Ranjith addressed the rally. In the evening, his music group, Casteless Collective would sing.
Pa Ranjith addresses the rally
On Sunday, the event would begin with a talk by Advocate Indira Jaising, on ‘Sabarimala: The Supreme Court verdict and the Kerala High Court verdict that followed’. There would be another talk on ‘Menstruation Campus’ before Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan inaugurates a public meeting.