Mumbai: If you are on any social media platform, you might have come across a challenge that was supported by celebs like Anushka Sharma and hubby Virat Kohli, Varun Dhawan, Twinkle Khanna, Akshay Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, Alia Bhatt, etc. This challenge did not just stay among the stars, but got the general public taking a cue to join in, to remove the stigma of menstrual cycles by brandishing a pad, and talking about menstruation being a natural phenomenon.
Anil Shetty, a social worker who has been spreading awareness through whatsapp says his inspiration is Arunachalam Muruganantham, the original Padman of India. He says, “Now, I am looking forward to the movie based on his life. I always believed that it’s important for society to understand what women feel when they are vulnerable physically or mentally. Periods are natural and we must accept that without prejudice. The only way to change such beliefs is by talking about such matters openly, I am so happy to see openness in India society now. I salute Bollywood for starting this Padman Challenge to create awareness. The cinema is a power medium, and I hope Padman can inspire billion Indians and change our beliefs towards periods. It’s natural.”
The challenge spread like wildfire, reaching a global level. But it also got the streets of small towns and villages into action. Two videographers, after seeing Anil Kapoor’s video, were inspired to make one themselves. Sunil Chaudhary and Ayushi Bharadwaj, who are both fellows at a social research foundation, explain, “We want to encourage people from the rural areas in the country to make the same kind of video, and post it and try to magnify the situation in the rural population. Till date, many rural areas do not have access to sanitary pads, so we want to address that, making pads easily accessible.”
Another city professional, Alka Singh, who also shared a picture says, “Periods are natural. I have periods now, like normal girls. It is not shameful. My body is not shameful. When I was 10 and had my first menstrual period, my mother took me aside and said; ‘Now your childhood is over.’ I’m not ashamed of my period. Because your period can be an indicator of your health and there is nothing shameful about your body.”