What is Teej?
Teej, also called Haritalika Teej, is a festival celebrated by Nepali women mainly on 3rd day of Bhadra Sukala Paksha (according to Nepali lunar calendar), for the long life of their husbands and long and firm relationship between them until the death this life and all the lives to come. It generally falls in late August or early September. This famous women festival is observed for marital happiness, well-being of spouse and children and purification of one’s own body and soul. On this day, it is fascinating to see women, in “Red” dancing and singing on the street, going to temple in holy and fasting mood. This festival is celebrated by Nepali and Indian Hindu women all across the world.
This is a festival traditionally dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, remembering her union with Lord Shiva. It is a three-day-long celebration that combines splendid feasts as well as rigid fasting. The eve (first day of Teej) is called Dar Khane Din, a heavy feast day. On this day women go in fasting all day long and at around midnight they take special type of desert, called Dar, especially vegetarian meal which comprises of Yoghurt, Ghee, Milk, Rice pudding, Pulau rice, fruits and sweets.
The second day is the main day of Teej (the fasting day). Some women take it very rigid, Nirjala Brata, which means, they refuse to take even drops of water while some others may take liquid and fruit. On this day, women, both married and unmarried in their finest outfits of red (called Saubhagya) with special jewelleries, visit a nearby Lord Shiva’s temple and start dancing and singing devotional songs mixed with Nepali folk and Dohori songs called Teej Songs. Their songs express their hidden sorrows and pains as well as happiness occurring in their married lives. Unmarried women ask Lord Shiva to bless them with the type of husband they imagine while married ones pray the Lord for the long life of their husbands.
Some women call Hindu Priest (Pundit Jee) in their own home and perform a special Teej pooja (religious ceremony) for the welfare of their husbands-others do this pooja in Lord Shiva temples. At the Shiva temple, women worship the Shiva lingam, the symbol of the lord Shiva, offering flowers, sweets and coins. The main puja takes place with offerings of flowers, fruits, etc., made to Shiva and Pārbati, pleading them to grant their blessing upon the husband and family. The most important part of the pooja is mostly done in the evening lighting the oil lamp (108 sute batti in a diyo) which should be burning throughout the night. They spend whole night awaken singing devotional songs for Shiva- Pārbati and dancing.
The next day, the third day of the Festival they perform poojaa of Diyo(the holy lamp)and goddess Parvati. The most important part of this puja is a banana and holy basil (Tulsi patta) leaf. Only after this puja, women take solid food. This third day of Teej is Ganesha Chaturthi when women eat holy rice mixed with ghee. Some women do pooja of Lord Ganesha on this day.
In some areas this festival culminates on the 5th day called Rishi Paynchami on which they perform poojaa of Rishis(Hindu Sages).