Many cultures have contamination beliefs about menstruation. Most notably in the Orthodox Jewish tradition of niddah, menstruating women must remain separated from their husband during their period and take a ritual cleansing bath at the end. Women may test whether menstruation has ceased; this ritual is known as the hefsek tahara. The woman takes a bath or shower near sunset, wraps a special cloth around her finger, and swipes the vaginal circumference. If the cloth shows only discharges that are white, yellow, or clear, then menstruation is considered to have ceased. If discharge is bright red, it indicates that menstruation continues. If it is any other color, it is subject to further inquiry, often involving consultation with a rabbi.
All a bit much really and TMI for this blogger. Anyway, it turns out that not only menstruating women but also pregnant women have been banned from attending a Maori exhibit at the National Museum in Wellington, New Zealand. Jane Keig, a spokeswoman for the museum, said the policy was in place because of Maori beliefs and was agreed to as part of one collection included in the tour. Apparently it is a common concern in Maori culture, with women forbidden to go into the garden or on to the beach when they are menstruating. Okay, so how exactly are they going to ensure that menstruating women are not let into the exhibition? I guess they may have to take the finger test and consult a rabbi.