Although still a sensitive topic in countless Indian families, menstruation had never to be taboo in mine - till an emotional reunion revealed a generational divide.

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Several members of mine family, who had actually been chatting animatedly over mugs of warm sweet tea, were abruptly silent. Us were all packed in a usually hotel room in Rameswaram, an island turn off the southern Indian state that Tamil Nadu.

The unnatural minute of stillness was instantly noticeable because that two factors - the suddenly peal of rain beating against the windows, and the fact that there is rarely silence once my family, who live on 3 continents and talk every day on WhatsApp, acquire to it is in together.

My aunt, who had been lying casually on she hotel bed, stood up to reach for she handbag. She pulled out a sanitary towel and handed it end to me.

"This will tide girlfriend over till we can stop by a pharmacy," she said. And looking fairly sadly in ~ me, she added: "You know what this means, don't you?"

Image source, Vidya Nair

Our family were not holidaying in Rameswaram. Back tourism and also fishery are the two dominant industries that the 60 sq kilometres (23 sq miles) island, us were there because that a very particular and sombre reason.

It had been a year because the fatality of mine beloved grandmother, the adhesive that preserved our trans-continental family members close.

On hear the news that her fatality last December, we had actually all bring away the next obtainable flight to to visit her funeral.

Image source, Vidya Nair
Tamil Nadu is a renowned pilgrimage destination. A recent fire in ~ Meenakshi temple ruined dozens the shops

There are countless traditions in Hindu culture surrounding death, relying on which component of India you're from.

My family members observes a set of south Indian Hindu rituals because that the death of who close. Us took her body back to our family home, wrapped her in white cotton, laid her on a big banana leaf and also prayed together. The males took her body for cremation - a moment I wished I might have attended.

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We hadn't eaten meat because that 15 job after she death. Us performed a distinct ceremony 90 days after.

We stated our goodbyes come each other at the airport, promise that us would satisfy again for the next stage of the ritual, the final chapter of ours mourning, at Rameswaram - a famous Hindu expedition site.