Haritalika Teej: Festival of Women
Teej is a short form of Haritalika Teej, it is a Hindu festival and is celebrated by women especially by married women for their husband’s long health and prosperity and the unmarried girls also follow Teej ceremonies to pray for a good husband marking a day of reunion of God Shiva and Goddess Parwati. This festival is observed for three days.
Nowadays, The Teej Festival is presented as a Women’s Festival, Political Parties and activists demand equal rights after wishing women marking the festival. Teej or Haritalika Teej is a three days festival but unofficially it starts few days or weeks earlier since women are busy for shopping and they travel to their birth-home to celebrate the festival with their maternal families and relatives.
The first day of Teej Festival: Grand Feast in the Evening
Married daughters arrive to her Mother’s home; Sisters arrive to her brother’s home marking the festival. When evening falls, reunion of the family and relatives start a grand feast in the evening, it is called ‘Dar’ in Nepali. After having delicious foods and drinks, they start chanting & dancing devotional songs and personal songs.
The typical tradition is, brother or dad goes to his sister/daughter’s home to bring her home to celebrate the festival and after having ‘Dar’ in the evening, all neighbors (whole villagers if it is in a typical village)gather in a home and start performing songs and dances. The newly married girls make her compulsory visit to her parents and everyone listen her very carefully when she starts her performance. She will tell everything to her maternal families about her situation, condition of her new home, about her husband and entire family and relatives through the performance. Yet, marriages are arranged and organized by parents in Nepal. The couple gets very less chance to know each other in the arrange marriages.
The Second day of Teej Festival: Fasting and Praying
The Second day of Teej festival is a fasting day. After bathing early in the morning, women hold a day-long fasting (some men are also fasting today) and pray to lord Shiva for their husbands' prosperity and good health. They wear red Sari, beautiful Jewelries and go to the nearest Shiva temples for rituals and worshiping (puja).
The Pashupatinath temple is the main attraction among women in Kathmandu valley but there are other small Shiva temples in Kathmandu as well as whole Nepal.
In the evening, the fast is broken with fruits and sugar water with their husbands. They again served another grand feast. Chanting and Dancing followed throughout the day.
The Third day of Teej Festival: Holy bath and Final Puja
The third day of Teej Festival is known as Rishi Panchami. After the holy bath at nearest rivers with red muds on the roots of sacred Datiwan, they also brush with Datiwan and are ready for further puja. Then women gather in a Shiva temple or somewhere under the giant tree of Peepal they worship Ganesh and Seven Sages, Sapta Rishi. What they have wished yesterday shall be fulfilled from today onwards after completing these puja today.
the Puja is completed, they start traditional performance again till the midnight. Many dishes including some traditional cuisines are serviced.