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Mumbai: Talk about it. Period!

Updated on: 28 May,2024 07:08 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar |

A flash mob aims to spark conversations about menstrual health and hygiene, by leveraging public space

Mumbai: Talk about it. Period!

The flash mob outside Bandra West railway station. Pic/Aditi Haralkar

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Mumbai: Talk about it. Period!

On a busy Monday morning, commuters at Bandra West railway station stopped and stared, many fishing hurriedly for their mobile phones as a flash mob assembled outside the main exit/entry space of the station.

The flash mob was an Ujaas initiative. Ujaas, an Aditya Birla Education Trust initiative, is working in the menstrual health space, fostering menstrual health and hygiene management. It brought the conversation about menstruation into a public space through the medium of a rap song, called: 'Ye Laal Rang—periods.' The song unveiled on Monday with a flash mob dancing to it, was in collaboration with rapper Saniya MQ, marking Menstrual Hygiene Day which falls on May 28, today. There is a 'men' in menstrual, menstrual health advocates often remind people and it was heartening to witness young men as part of the dance group, all wearing T-shirts that had menstrual health emblazoned on them with the slogan: 'laal rang yehi qudrat hai' (menstrual blood is a natural bodily phenomenon).

Men, too
Gagan Singh Chauhan, part of the group, said, “It is vital that we bring the conversation to the people. Even with all the so-called awareness, women and men too are still uncomfortable with this topic.” Kaushik Bhoir was at the station with his KDA dance troupe from Bhandup East. “This is a novel way to give a message. Changing mindsets is easier with a fresh, attention-catching approach,” he said. For participant Siddhi Dhavale, “Menstruation should not and cannot be solely a women's issue. The lyrics of the rap song capture the message perfectly."

No hiding
Some lines of the Hindi rap song went: ‘it's periods don't say it loudly q-ke isbaare mein kehte hai kabhi nahi... (we do not talk about periods ever)’. 
Dancer Vishakha Davre said, “Today when we go into a medical store to buy sanitary napkins, the package is wrapped in newspaper as if to 'hide' it. This must change.”

Normalise it
Choreographer Nikhil Chavan with his daughter Hasya said, “What is awareness? It begins with having conversations at home. A father and daughter, for instance, should be able to talk about a menstrual cycle.” Hasya added, “It is not just one performance but once this song goes on to social media and starts trending, there is reinforcement and the message will reverberate and become more powerful.”

Power moves
Through all this bustle, Dr Mukesh Mohode, general manager strategy, Ujaas, Aditya Birla Education Trust, said, “It is still a long journey ahead for awareness. When conversations start within families, a father talks to his daughter or a brother talks to his sister about menstruation, then we know we are moving ahead.”

The doctor added, “We have to smash myths like keeping the woman from entering a kitchen during her period, or believing she cannot touch the pickle jar, which is still prevalent in urban spaces. In places like Gadchiroli, we still have menstruation huts for women, who have to live there during their periods.”

While many said family conversations are the place where change should begin, this public space dancing was garnering attention, of the healthy kind. Passer-by M Riaz said, “I think this is a good initiative in a place like this. It will surely help us talk about this.” M Nur Shaikh from Mahim added, 

Advaitesha Birla, founder of Ujaas, said, “This education is crucial to prevent tragic consequences such as girls dropping out of school because of menstruation. We are leveraging platforms like railway stations because by engaging with the community in such public spaces, we aim to dispel myths and empower individuals to take charge of their menstrual health.

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