Thursday, March 23, 2006

Are you jutho today?

Ok, this posting may be a bit TMI-ish, but I feel like I gotta share this. If you are living with a Hindu family, be aware that when you females are menstruating, you are considered "jutho" (pronounced joo-tow). What this means is that you cannot touch anything that the man of the house will be using for eating or touch anyone who will be preparing his meals (for some it can be even more stringent). So, what's so bad about that, you might wonder. You may have even correctly surmised that the woman is off the hook for cooking during this time period -yay! But, after the 4 days, even if she is still having her menses, she is now not jutho. This is a relaxed rule (previously, the woman was jutho for the entire period). I think the relaxed rule was thought up by the guys who got sick of cooking his own food after 4 days! So, you might now be thinking, ok, so what's the big deal? - well, for me and other women here, it means we have to eat in our room, our dishes are not to be mixed with the others, food is dropped onto our plates so as to not connect the server (the other woman in the house) with our plates. Once you are past the four days, you must then wash everything you have touched if it is washable. If it not washable, it must be put out under the sun to be purified (ie heavy blankets, but not the bed mattress or bed itself as it did not directly touch your body). It was kind of stressful actually. Rachna, the host couple's daughter, fortunately, was jutho about the same time as me, so she and I were 'banished' together. She even extended her jutho-ness to keep me company while we ate. Her mom finally cut me some slack at the end, but I think she would have preferred total purification (I wore a totally clean pair of pants after I washed myself on the fourth night, but slept in my bed before it was totally purified. She did not require that I wash the pants after one use. Oh, by the way, it is not uncommon for one to wear the same pair of pants for days on end, and shirts, too... Good thing I have a cold and can't smell anything. See what I mean, TMI! haha!

(the literal meaning of jutho - is the act of the rice that have touched your plate, falling on the eating surface - table, floor, whatever. But most use it in reference to that time when you are impure - during menses & childbirth)

Namaste all!


Dina said...

Jackie, I finally caught up on your adventures. Thank you so much for sharing this experience with all of us. I have found that some of the best and most interesting connections you can make when travelling involve the most basic functions of life. Enjoy!


Jin, Ego and Joel said...

Jackie, thanks for keeping this log. It's fascinating! and you are a good writer. Write more! We wish you well.

Jin, Ego and Joel

Doxey said...

Wow, yeah, I never heard of jutho before, Jackie. You're learning lots of cultural stuff there, eh?

Brook said...

Hi Jackie,
I just (finally) figured out how to comment on this thing. Blogging is totally a new thing for me. I just commented on the one about high speed internet, so now I'm at your most recent posting, so am finally catching up to you. That jutho thing is a drag! There was that way cool solar eclipse today, and Hindu women in India are not to go out to see it, according to their culture/religion, especially if they're pregnant because they're told that seeing it may result in the baby being blind or having a cleft lip once it's born. I imagine there are a lot more restrictions than that for pregnant Hindu women (like jutho, only for 9 months!!). You are definitely having some cool adventures and helping people at the same time. That's the best vacation ever. Brook