London’s oldest Sikh temple, Shepherd Bush Gurdwara, has launched a period policy to ensure that there are no restrictions on menstruating women.
The includes the provision of free sanitary products, workshops on menstrual health and most importantly no restrictions on women looking to set foot inside while menstruating.
“The period policy is created to ensure that equality is provided to all sewadars, sangat and guests who attend the gurdwara sahib.
"There are no restrictions on menstruating women,” said professor Peter Virdee of the Virdee Foundation on Wednesday, adding that through regular katha, they would eliminate shame, stigma and taboo attached to menstruation.
Historically, it is forbidden for menstruating women to step foot inside Sikh temples due to antiquated rules that bleeding women are considered unclean.
The period policy was the idea of Manjit Gill from Binti International, a charity which tackles period poverty and education in developing countries.
Gill decided to take action after she discovered to her horror that many of the taboos which she came across in countries like India also existed here.
"It was a real eye-opener to see we had the same issues in the UK," she said.
"One lady told me she wasn’t allowed to go to her father’s funeral and another said she was not to touch anyone or any food. And this was all in the UK."
"Getting temples on board wasn’t easy particularly as they are all run by men," she continued.
"We faced a backlash from people who didn’t agree with the issue being discussed in the temple because it’s a sacred place so it was considered obscene. I was scared that someone would cause trouble."
However, Gurpreet Singh Anand, Youth Secretary of the Shepard's Bush Temple, agreed.
"By supporting this initiative, we hope to get the debate going and remove the stigma. If we have a policy, we hope other gurdwaras will follow suit and it sends a positive message to the community that our faith doesn’t discriminate".