Most Indian festivals are jointly celebrated by men and women. However, some of these celebrations are mostly concerned with women. Males perform their roles by organizing the occasion and providing financial support. One such festival is totally dedicated and enjoyed by women is Teej. States like Rajashtan, Haryana, Bihar, Jaipur, and Chandigarh celebrate it happily. Recently, the festival fever has also caught with Madhya Pradesh and Delhi NCR.
Teej is basically a fasting festival that occurs in Sukhla Trutriya of Bhadrapadh month. It is observed on the third day of a bright moon fortnight in the month of Shrawan, also called as Saawan as per the Hindu calendar. It falls in between July to early September. The main essence of this festival is to commemorate the marital union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. These three days are special for both married and unmarried women. Those who are married offer prayer to Maa Parvati and Lord Shiva in order to receive their blessing for a happy married life. Unmarried women seek the blessing of the idols for an ideal husband.
Legend of Teej
Sati marries Shiva against her father's wish. Her father, Daksha was a great ruler, who did not like Shiva and considered him as a vagabond. Once, when performing a Maha Yagna he invited all the gods and rishis, except Shiva and Sati. Since Sati loved her father despite his thoughts about her husband, she visited the event only to hear insult and abuses for Shiva. When Daksha could not control his anger and hate for Shiva, Sati took it as her own insult and jumped into the fire pond to end her life.
After a few years, Sati takes a rebirth as Parvati in a royal family. When Parvati was reminded about her previous life, she immersed herself in Shiva's meditation for several years. She endures all the pain and suffering to appease Shiva. Seeing her devotion and pure feelings, Shiva gets impressed and marries Parvati on this day. Hence, to remember Parvati's true devotion and to honour all the stages she was through, married women celebrate Teej.
Fasting for the whole day and being in the thoughts of the divine couple helps married women to lead a happy life. This day is also sacred to fast and contemplate for unmarried women who wish to have an ideal husband like Shiva.
There are three types of Teej observed in India. They are Haryali Teej, Kajari Teej, and Hartalika Teej.
Since the Teej festival occurs in the Shrawan month, which is also a monsoon period, women pray to Lord Krishna and Radha. They even pray to the moon and thanks for a good harvest. As there is a lot of greenery during this period, women dress up in green colors, apply mehendi, wear green bangles and perform pooja. Religious songs and prayers are sung to thank the mother nature. As cereals are the harvest crops, delicious meals are cooked from it and offered to the god.
Women enjoy this festival in colourful attire. The sight of celebration is fabulous in villages rather than cities. Swings are suspended with a rope on a tree and women make merry singing songs and sharing their thoughts. To thank the monsoon for its timely appearance, women sing folk songs.
This festival is more famous in northern states of India. This day, married and unmarried women observe a rigorous fast. They do not drink a single drop of water or eat anything until they complete all the offerings and pooja. They try to emulate the etiquettes of Goddess Parvati and try to please her by observing strict routine on this day.
The idol of Maa Parvati is washed with clean and fresh water, milk and honey. After that the idol is adorned with beautiful and decorative items common in a married woman's life. A palanquin is also decorated and consecrated for the procession. Musicians are called and the procession is carried out through dancing and singing religious songs.
In Nepal, all the three days of the Teej festival are special for women. Lots of religious and cultural programmes are held throughout this period. Women keep fast on the second day and offer prayers at Shiva's Temple. The last day is very important to clean oneself from all the sins. For this, women use red mud to bath with. This coloured mud is found under the root of the sacred datiwan bush.
In Haryana, this festival is to welcome the monsoon and is observed on the third day of the Sharwan month. Kites flying is the major activity of the day in which boys and girls participated equally. Girls also set up swings in the open courtyards and enjoy the swing. In Jaipur, Teej is very popular and the grand procession of Lord Shiva and Parvati attract thousand of tourists to this city.
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