Our Country India can actually be compared to a storybook which is full of wonderful and weird stories. Reading through the different pages of this book, might leave you shocked, few things can be unbelievable, it can even be controversial yet everything you read might leave you so fascinated. We Indians are famous for listening to our hearts more than our heads. This is one reason why Indians hold their beliefs so tight even today. We have end number of rituals and celebrations, some of these rituals raise many questions in the mind of other people and also in the upcoming generations. But do you feel all such questions have an answer?
I think I might be sounding a bit confusing to you, let me talk a bit more clearly. There is one such custom followed in our country that actually raise so many questions in my mind – it is the Puberty Ceremony in South India. When I shifted to Bengaluru, I was actually invited to one such ceremony and since I didn’t know much about it I decided to talk to one of my friend and find out about what this celebration is all about. She told me that this Puberty ceremony is a celebrations done exclusively for girls after they have their first period. Doesn’t that sound weird? Well it did to me. Out of curiosity I actually tried to dig in more into what actually happens in this celebration. Let me give you a glimpse of when, what and how this Puberty of girls is still celebrated in South India.
What is Puberty?
Well in case you have been sleeping during your sex-education class, then let me take the pride of explaining what Puberty actually means. It indicates the capability of the girl’s body for reproduction. The girl attains maturity when she gets her first menstruation cycle.
Puberty Tradition In South India
This tradition is mainly followed in South India where a huge celebration is conducted when a girl reaches her sexual maturity (Puberty). The Puberty tradition is an age old tradition which is being followed for years now. All across South India the same custom has been followed by many South Indian families for years now.
Puberty Ceremony: Did it play a big role in advertising a girl’s matrimonial availability?
Years before when there were no options to find grooms on the matrimonial website, this tradition was one sole medium to announce to the entire world that there is a girl who has reached her age to get married in our house. When I say old times it means many years as during that time the girls were married at a very young age (around 12 or 13).
What Happens in During the Puberty Tradition?
Based upon my discussion with few of my friends here in Bangalore, this is what I understand happens during the Puberty Tradition.
1. The Bath
Yes, the girl who reaches her puberty is actually treated as a princess. Well, this celebration is exclusively for her, so she deserves all the attention. The very first thing that happens when a girl gets her 1st period is that she is given a bath, irrespective of the time. Post that she is asked to be in a separate room, isolated from everyone.
2. Isolation Period
On attaining puberty, the girl is kept in a separate room where only females are allowed. No men can actually enter the girls room. She is kept in the same room for 15 days until all the rituals related to menstruation are completed. The celebration takes place on the 16th day when many guest are invited.
3. Special Diet
The girl is given an absolutely healthy and nutritious vegetarian diet for next 15 days. The diet includes Ragi (One of the healthiest food in South India), eggs, urad lentils cooked in sesame oil. The reason of giving such a diet is also backed by beliefs like it would help in the girl’s pregnancy. This diet is undertaken to help strengthen the body for childbirth and also help in strengthening the pelvic bones of the girl. Don’t know the real science behind the diet but a healthy diet does more good than harm. So one should not have any issues in eating it.
4. The 16th Day
On the 16th day the isolation period gets over and it’s the day of celebration. A huge ceremony is held which is attended by many relatives and friends. The Girl is decorated like a bride, she is gifted her first silk saree and is decked up with jewellery and flowers. Definitely no less than a typical South-Indian bride. After the girl gets ready she is made to sit in the celebration, where some priest performs some rituals. Post the prayers and rituals are over the girl is again given a bath with a special water which is mixed with turmeric powder and neem leaves. After the bath the girl is again dressed up in a saree. Post these rituals she is a part of the celebration, where all relatives and friends give her gifts. However these days people even celebrate the main day on the 7th day itself, this is because now a days not all people prefer disclosing such facts.
Once the girl attains her puberty, her family informs all their relatives and friends about the celebration. The celebration can be big or small in size and extravagance, it totally depends upon how the family chooses to celebrate it. In the current era, not all girls want to disclose such news to the entire world, this is one reason why people keep small private events for very close family members only. However, people who like lavish celebrations even throw parties which look nothing less lavish than weddings. Friends and Relatives attend this function and give wonderful gifts and blessing to the girl, post which they enjoy a grand meal.
This is one really weird tradition, but some facts do prove that it had a lot of importance. Today not all girls want to disclose their coming of age, here these celebrations and rituals are performed at their home only. People are even doing the celebration of the 7th day itself, where they have very limited number of guest present and informed.
This was my little effort to give you a glimpse of what actually happens during this unique ceremony. However, as I said, depending on the different types of communities, the process of this celebration might vary and be a bit different. But at the end of all, the main purpose is to celebrate the coming of age for a girl.