Menarche rituals in the world:
Many early cultures had ceremonies and rituals for the first menstruation of young
women. In the Greek culture, a temple was built for the rituals. Early Semitic tribes
in the Indo-European area, African, Asian and Native American groups honored the
first bleeding. Later, the women of Hebrew culture celebrated the first bleeding
of young women by a ritual of anointing oils and praying together for health and
fertility. Most societies were celebrating the blessings of fertility as each young
woman became physically able to conceive children. It was a time of publicly acknowledging
that the woman was now ready for the responsibilities of marriage and motherhood.
The Navajo and Apace menarche ceremonies are some of the best known. They had elaborate
celebrations in which the menarcheal girl assumes a position of great respect in
society. In southern India, menarche is a time for great rejoicing with gifts, new
clothing, ceremonial baths, and feasting. Relatives come from all over the world
to be part of the celebration.
To the Pygmies in central Africa, menstrual blood is a gift, gratefully and joyously
received by the entire community. The girl who has reached menarche goes into seclusion,
taking with her all her young friends and an older female relative who will teach
them the arts and crafts of motherhood. This period of seclusion is followed by
a celebration lasting a month or two, with friends traveling from near and far to
pay their respects.
Other cultures isolate the girl as a protective measure, believing her supernatural
powers to be so great at this time that she may endanger the entire community as
well as herself. Seclusion also provides an opportunity for the girl to meditate,
dream, receive visions, and prepare for her new role in the group.