Puberty Ceremony

A friend posted a photo on Facebook of a favour from a puberty ceremony leftover from an event held previously at the same banquet hall. Understandably so, the reactions ranged from shock to ridicule. Perhaps you too clicked on this reading for the very same reason. The primary question. How does one even verify such a state has been reached?

Many cultures celebrate menarche, when a girl gets her first period. For example, Native Indian and Tamil cultures have elaborate Puberty Ceremonies. It is a celebration of life, and the ability of that woman to now be able to reproduce. It is indeed the success of Natural Selection. An offspring has survived till it (in this case ‘she’) is reproductively viable. Bring on Sexual Selection! Instead of this tangible biological marker, most mainstream cultures celebrate arbitrary milestones dispersed throughout adolescence. Sweet 16. Driver’s Licence. Voting Age. Legal Drinking Age. So on, and so forth. None of these milestones are a biological marker of aging.

It’s actually sad that more cultures do not celebrate puberty, but rather consider it a taboo and something to be ashamed of. I too am privy to this. My mother asked me if I wanted a celebration and I vehemently refused (and she sighed with relief). But I was young then. In university (Anthropology 101), I learned about the rites of passage and puberty ceremonies across many cultures, and how they are correlated to women’s rights. The views of these cultures of respecting reproduction and the circle of life, was an eye opener. The cultures in which puberty is celebrated often enjoy higher levels of equality, and/or are matrilineal societies. Only now am I able to appreciate the Puberty Ceremony.

Things are changing. Hashtags on bleeding with pride are being created. News articles are popping up. Some cultures (like the one with the wedding favour) celebrate Puberty Ceremonies like a mini-wedding. Public protests are being staged. Menstruation is coming into the public eye. Approximately half of the world’s population of humans experience menstruation once a month for forty years of their lives. That’s insurmountable. It is natural. It signifies the success of a biological life. It should be celebrated!

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