"Ritual Puja for Menstruation" by Annalisa Derr
Video edited by: Kalista Skydancer for SHE IS LOVE and Annalisa Derr
This ritual performance piece is the second “offering” in a series exploring menstruation, the Divine Feminine, and Mary Magdalene.
“Puja” is a Sanskrit word meaning worship. Widely speaking, puja is a devotional worship act that is unique to various Hindu traditions. Giving/receiving puja is a sincere devotional act, generally administered in temple ceremonies by Brahmins, but it is also performed at home by a member of the household. Furthermore, the honoree of puja is reserved for a god/goddess or a very important person.
In this performance piece, I have decided to use the act of puja to honor both menstruation as a process as well as the menstrual body.
This is a particularly challenging topic because in most cultures that are steeped in patriarchal institutions and androcentric mindsets, menstruation and therefore women, are considered dirty, impure, unclean, a “hindrance” to business, etc. For many women in the world, Her time of the month ushers in a time of menstrual seclusion because the act of menstruation is seen as taboo and polluting. Even in the West, menstruation is still considered shameful and is, in fact, treated much more like a disease rather than a natural and necessary bodily process.
In north India, Kamakya is a tantric goddess associated with fertility. She is often seen with Her vulva exposed, and Her menstrual blood is believed to fertilize that land. Brahmin priests preside over Her temple, and in an ironic twist, control who can and cannot see the the “menstrual blood” of the goddess. Because of strict menstrual taboos, menstruating women are not allowed in Her temples.
Therefore in this performance fragment, I performed puja to Kamakya to celebrate my menstrual body as well as to honor women, the female body, and menstruation as beautiful, natural, and life-affirming!
* Red—passion, fertility, menstrual blood
* Roses—associated with goddesses and the vulva. Rose petals are often used in puja ceremonies to honor the deity.
* Rose-petaled yantra—a visual representation of the mantra chanted for the goddess.