Published: 21st April 2021
Have you heard the Period Song? This is the Hyderabad-based organisation behind it
It was Upasana Kamineni Konidela who launched the song, but this is not the only reason why this song is special. This song focuses on the menace that is period poverty and helps spread a message
If you have ever had a song stuck in your head, you understand the power of a song. Lines that seem to speak to you directly and a tune that embraces your heart like a warm hug. Knowing this very well, Shyla Talluri wondered about the best way to bring attention to period poverty, which was not only via the Pads on Wheels programme they had piloted recently, but also through a song that went along with it. Imagine, as the two vans circle the slums of Hyderabad, a song plays that talks about menstruation in a way that resonates with one and all, even those who don't menstruate. That was the idea behind the Period Song released by PURE (People for Urban and Rural Education) a registered NGO in India and a non-profit in the USA that started its operations way back in March 2016. And as you can see, they continue to innovate, pandemic notwithstanding, to work in the areas of education, period poverty and beyond.
Sung in Telugu, Period Song is very special for more reasons than one. Not only because it was released by entrepreneur Upasana Kamineni Konidela on April 7, 2021, it is also because it was penned by Sataghni AKA Vineel Kanthi Kumar who has written several songs, sung by Sri Krishnam Geeta Madhuri and the music has been rendered by Sid Watkins. And the founder of PURE is Shyla Talluri, whose brainchild is this song. "This song is not upbeat and doesn't mask the reality because we did not want to do that. How long are we going to live in denial? The song goes an extra mile to highlight the distress of all menstruating beings from all strata of society," she highlights. The choice of enlisting the help of a male lyricist, who has been part of PURE for a long time now, was also a conscious decision. Every gender needs to join the fight against period poverty, so why not men start doing their bit?
Shyla | (Pic: PURE)
"I have been travelling with PURE to several schools where we have conducted PURE Femme Menstrual Hygiene workshops and I have learnt a lot from my experience. I come from a family of three brothers so this experience was important for me to understand menstruation," says lyricist Vineel who has laced the song with several meaningful instances, like where he talks about a mother tearing up her sari so that her daughter can use it during her period. So many instances, several truths sung in a way that goes straight to the heart.
Talking about Pads on Wheels, Shyla, who is based out of Florida, says, "PURE Femme started as an awareness programme in rural schools and slowly, it expanded into a lot more. Take, for example, Pads on Wheels. It was started to take the message of period poverty beyond the classroom and to their families, right at their doorstep. And the song just amplifies our purpose." The quality of this song, which is around four minutes and 22 seconds, is top class and the flute and violin accompaniments complement the soulful tune of the song itself.
PURE started with just one school, Bhasit Nagar Thanda in Kothagudem. As their funds were limited, the students were asked if they needed notebooks or plates to eat food, both of which they were falling short of. The kids chose education. And that sent out a very clear message to Shyla who now works with over 500 schools. They have a network of 15 volunteers and that's just in India. Their PURE Youth wing focuses on the needs of youngsters. The Period Song is one milestone in the long way they have come and the long way they intend on going.
Lyrics and translation from the song:
- Yedirinche shakthi neevu
Nadipinche yukthi neevu
Nelasarilo maaku matram mailavena?
You are the shakthi that can stand up to anything and the brain that can guide us. You are seen as untouchable when you are on your period though (rhetorical question)
- Kanipinche devathantu
Mailantu muttukorem jaalikaina?
You call us the visible god and the mother, yet when we are in pain you don’t even touch us (comfort us)
Shyla | (Pic: PURE)
- Niluvaneeda lekunnaa
Kattu batta lekunnaa
Thallikongule dikku maakashtaalannintikee
Even when there is no roof over our head or clothes to fully cover ourselves, we have to face the bleeding and it’s our mothers' sarees (pallus) that protect us
- Aadapillala chaduvuni kudaa
Maila peruto aapaala
Jeevithaalu bali cheyaalaa
Yenni naallaina teerani vyadhani
Yugamu yedaina maarani kathani
Kaalaraaselaa kalisi vachedi
Kalisi vacchela maarpu tecche di
Yevaru yevaru yevaru?
Why should we stop even girls' education in the name of impurity/untouchability? Meaningless restrictions ruining lives, the grief that doesn’t end and the same story repeats whatever century/age we are living in. Who will put an end to this? Who will join hands to stop this permanently? Who..who ..who?
For more on them check out pureonline.org