Teej or Hartalika Teej is the greatest festival of Hindu women all over Nepal, which is celebrated for marital happiness, husband’s longevity and purification of one’s body and soul. This festival is dedicated to Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Himalaya (the father of Goddess Parvati) promised Parvati’s marriage with Lord Vishnu. Since the decision was against Parvati’s wish, she asked her friend to abduct (harit) her. The friend (aalika) abducted and took her to a thick forest where Parvati made a Shiva Linga out of her hair and prayed. Lord Shiva was impressed with her prayer and gave his words to marry her. Therefore, Teej celebration is highly associated with husband and marriage. For unmarried women, fasting during Teej is believed to get them a husband they desire, and for married women, fasting is done for husband’s longevity.
When Teej is celebrated
According to Nepali calendar, Teej festival falls on the 3rd day of Bhadra Shukla Pakshya i.e. late August or early September. This year, Teej falls on 8 Bhadra 2073 (August 24, 2017).
How Teej Festival is celebrated
Since Teej is the festival of women and girls, they celebrate it by gathering together, feasting and dancing. In the past, Teej was when all the women in the family (sisters and mother) gathered together and shared their joys and sorrows. But recently, it is celebrated a bit differently, with a huge Dar party (Teej feast) that is organized weeks before the actual arrival of Teej.
During Teej, all the women and girls are seen in red clothing especially red sari and kurta salwar. Married daughters are called by their parents or brothers in their mother’s house and they celebrate the festival. Interestingly, women do not go to their mother’s house until they are called.
Day 1: Dar Khane Din
In this day, daughters go to their mother’s house and women assemble together in their finest red clothing and sing devotional songs and feast together. Brothers host the feast and sisters are invited on the day. Women sing songs about their family and social issues, discrimination as well as the struggles they have faced. Teej is also a time to express women’s voice through songs. Women appear in full make-up (Sorha Sringar) and dance a lot before they are ready to eat. The main food as Dar includes rice porridge, yogurt, and meat but these days a variety of food is served which is rich and abundant. The feast lasts till midnight after which the strict 24-hour fasting starts.
Day 2: The Fasting Day
In this day, a strict fasting is observed by women and girls. Some women do not even take a single drop of water or food. They take a bath early in the morning and go to a nearby temple for Puja. They offer flowers, fruits and coins to Lord Shiva and his wife Goddess Parvati. They sing and dance throughout the day. They also light oil lamps which they believe brings peace and prosperity if lit for a longer time. The women and girls who fast strictly are believed to be blessed with a good husband (for unmarried) and husband’s longevity and prosperity (for married).
Day 3: Ganesh Chaturthi
In this day, women wake up early in the morning, take a bath and worship the oil lamp and Goddess Parvati before consuming any solid food.
Day 4: Rishi Panchami
On this day, women pay homage to various deities by taking a sacred bath in a nearby river with the red mud found on the roots of sacred Datiwan bush. They bite 365 pieces of the sacred plant’s stem early in the morning and purify themselves. It is believed that performing this ritual will rid women of all the past sins. During the day time, they perform Panchami Puja as well as they sing and dance all day long.
Why Teej festival is celebrated