Chhaupadi – The Distant Home of Death

Our Worlds

Today I would like to write about “Chhaupadi Goth”, which is an isolated and alternative home for every Nepali female.

The home in which every Nepali female is forced to stay. The home of millions of Nepalese females where they have to spend most of their hard and humiliating days. The home where she is sent when she is weak and in need of the help of others. The home where she is sent whenever she is more vulnerable and susceptible. The home in which she is exposed to different types of diseases. The home in which she can’t feed herself properly and can’t sleep well.

The home in which the majority of Nepalese women are defeated by death and lose their lives.

It is a well-known fact that Nepal is a greatly diverse country. It is a country with different castes, creeds, cultures, traditions, social customs, languages, religions, ethics, and beliefs.

The greatest king of Nepal, who unified Nepal from 2,200 kingdoms in the east and 2,400 kingdoms in the west, His Majesty Great Prithvi Narayn Shah, once said that Nepal is a garland of four castes and 36 sub-castes where people enjoy and respect each other’s differences and also share the environment harmoniously.

It’s a country with unity in diversity.

He also said that Nepal was like jam between two great rocks i.e. China and India. With these diversities and various groups of people, the population of Nepal have their own way of living their lives. Accordingly, the lives of people in Nepal differ according to their culture, traditions and beliefs. As a result of this diversity, we have many beautiful as well some of the negative traditions in the Nepalese cultures.

Among such negative traditions, Chhaupadi Pratha (Chhaupadi System) is one which is followed by Hindu women in Nepal where more than 80% of the population are Hindus.

As a result of the “Chhaupadi” tradition, women are prohibited from participating in normal family activities during their menstruation period.

The Chhaupadi Pratha is one of the oldest social traditions that still exists in most of the rural areas of Nepal, especially in the west of Nepal. Chhaupadi Pratha is the system where women who are menstruating are taken out of their homes and made to stay in a separate home called “Chhaupadi Goth”. In Nepali “Goth” means animal shed.

This separate shed-like place, which is made of dried leaves or grass with a single room and single door, is prepared for the menstruating females to stay.

They are forbidden from using warm blankets, beds and the bed sheets that they use in normal life. In most cases they have to sleep on a thick layer of dried leaves on the floor.

In some places they are also allowed to use “Bora” i.e. jute sacks in which they can sleep. During this time, the menstruating females are not allowed to enter their homes or touch men or other any family members. This is because of the superstitious belief that, if touched by a menstruating woman, they will fall ill.

They are also not allowed to consume nutritious food such as meat, eggs, fruits, milk, butter, honey, etc. because if they do, it is believed that they will ruin all these foods.

For example, if a woman touches milk, they believe that the cow or buffalo will stop producing milk, if they touch or consume fruits, they believe that the trees will stop bearing fruits, if they consume honey, all honeybees will die and so on.

Not only this but they are also forbidden from attending schools, reading books, seeing the sun, looking in a mirror, taking a bath, participating in holy ceremonies such as worshipping god, attending marriage ceremonies, and so on.

The belief in this system is so strong that no one can ignore it. It is believed that, if anyone tries to break this social tradition, her whole family will be destroyed. All family members will be in a state of sin and they will remain in this state for centuries and centuries. This tradition is one of the most silent burning health problems of Nepal which is known, but not addressed enough.

Because this is a health problem which affects females, it is not addressed by society. Every month when women menstruate, they have to stay in such a home, far away from their family, far away from everything. Regardless if it is summer, winter, autumn or the monsoon season.

Women have to stay 10 to 11 days in a “Chhaupadi Goth” if she is menstruating for the first time and 5 to 7 days after the first menstruation.

Nobody knows how many women have lost their lives due to hunger, due to severe cold, due to mental stress or other female health problems. How many of them might have developed different types of physical diseases, such as arthritis, pneumonia, back pain and many other problems with their reproductive system. Chhaupadi is also considered to be one of the indirect reasons for the increase in maternal mortality and child mortality rates in Nepal.

Recently, before I was writing this article, I came to hear that one woman lost her life in a Chaupati Goth in the Darchula district of Nepal. According to the news, the woman was in the middle of her menstruation period. She had been staying in the Chhaupadi Goth for three days.

On the day when she lost her life, she had worked the entire day in her fields. Then at night she was given some food. After she had eaten, she fell asleep but in the morning she didn’t get up and also didn’t open the door of the Chhaupadi.

When her mother-in-law checked on her, she was found dead. Although, the details of the postmortem are still unknown, such news is common in the Nepali media.

The Chhaupadi system may only exist in western and remote areas of Nepal but the concept of considering menstruating women impure still exists throughout Nepal.

With the exception of a few city areas, in Nepal menstruating women are not allowed to touch others or enter kitchens.

Regardless of the fact that women cannot speak about Chhaupadi, I am here to speak about it.

I am here to advocate for the rights of women and girls. More than that specifically I am here to speak on behalf of Nepalese mothers, sisters and women. I am here to make the Chhaupadi system an international issue. I am here to let the world know about Chhaupadi and raise awareness of it. I am here to inform the whole world of how Nepalese women are being humiliated and that their human rights are being violated.

I believe men and women are like the two wheels of the same cart – they are equal and should also be treated equally. Only then is the development of society and every individual in it possible.


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Discussion (2 Comments)

  1. Nice initiative Bravo aatma

    1. Thank You my friend #Jhalak