It was the 16th of January, 2013: the day before my cousin’s marriage. This was the first marriage in my life which I was attending as a member of the ‘Baraati’. Needless to say, I was pretty excited about this celebration. I had been shopping since a month before the marriage. That day, it was decided that I would attend school, as the pre-board exams were approaching and my father would pick me up from there directly on the way to my cousin’s house. Mom and my little brother would be waiting there for me, and I was to get ready there itself.

So the entire day, I was very happy and couldn’t contain my excitement. But when I went to the washroom during my break-time, I discovered that my periods had begun a week before the expected date. I didn’t expect this and had to borrow a sanitary pad from a teacher. After this, I was all casual and chilling out because my mom never imposed any kind of ‘don’t touch this, don’t do that’-s’ on me. When I reached my cousin’s house, I told my mom that I needed a fresh napkin and so she sent my dad to buy some for me since she hadn’t brought any with her.
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After some time, one of my aunts asked my mom where my dad was and she told her that he went to buy napkins for me since I was having my periods. And now this good lady, she went and told this to my cousin’s mother. Now what was to happen? Well, she came running to my mom and declared “Sorry, she can’t attend the wedding. If anything gets touched…” I was in the bathroom, changing. When I came out, I was amazed to see the scene. My mom said that we would go anyway since we had already taken leave from our schools and told people that we were going. So the four of us (mom, dad, my brother and myself) were given a separate car to travel in up until we reached Guwahati (where the wedding was to be held). I could sense whisperings and mutterings among all the ladies and boy,how embarrassed I was! One of my cousins told me that it was nothing to worry about and that she didn’t believe in all of these superstitions (at least that’s what she said).

On the way there, when the entire group of cars stopped for tea, everyone stepped out, but nobody came to even talk to me from outside the car! I sat with my mom in the car and refused to eat anything in disgust and anger. I remember that as I looked out of the window, a stream of tears rolled down my cheeks too. And when we reached the hotel, it was worse. Nobody except my younger cousin knocked at our door and curtseyed by asking us if we needed anything. The next day, everyone went to the wedding Bhavan, but we were left alone in the hotel. However, a family friend of ours took us to a water park and I must say, I had more fun than any of those people at the wedding did.

On the way back, my cousin and his newly wed wife saw us from the window of their finely decorated car, and he made a gesture to ask us what happened. My mom indicated that all was well and that was it.

Later, my cousin’s mom called up and told my mom that she was feeling bad. My mom then replied, “You won’t understand the embarrassment of this little girl because you’ve never had a daughter. What if she was your own daughter? Would you have told her to stay away after all the excited preparations she had made for her brother’s marriage?” That left her speechless.

We were all invited for the reception but I didn’t go. My parents and my brother went, but I refused to go because I thought it would be bruising to my self-respect to attend a gathering where everyone would whisper all sorts of things about me behind my back.

After about a month, my mentor, friend and uncle called me up and in the course of the conversation, he made me confess what happened there. I was a bit hesitant at first but he listened so understandingly that I didn’t feel uncomfortable about it. More surprising than anything else was his response to it: “I want to take you to an auspicious event as a chief guest while you have your periods. Those people don’t realize your worth.”

This event has not yet come my way, but to all the girls out there who face this kind of embarrassment, please don’t pass this on to your future generation. I personally believe in the soul and the Supreme soul connection, so I think it has nothing at all to do with the body. It’s just a normal, natural, and rather essential biological process, so chill out! Do as much praying and worshipping as you want to, at least in your residential premises. ‘Shri Ramakrishna Kathamrita’ by Ramakrishna Paramhansa says that it is perfectly okay for a girl to worship during her menstruation if she wants to. There are other religious scriptures that support the same. After all, a devotee is a devotee, whatever her physical conditions be, isn’t it?

Author: Sreeja Chakraborty

Sreeja is a 12th grade Science student at Army Public School, Tezpur. She is extremely liberal and believes in logic and scientific reasoning. She also loves paint, sing, write, knit, crochet and cook. She blogs here

Editor: Divya Rosaline