Teej: In shades of red

  •   2017-08-24  |  nepaltraveller.com

Teej is important for the Hindu woman; it isn’t just lavish eating and dance but a subtle way of conceding emotions

At the halt of the monsoon when the thundering of rain simmers to a quiet drizzle, women step out in dazzling red outfits, the jingle jangle of bangles echoes in the streets and crossroads of Nepal. This is the only beginning as the three-day festival is yet to reach a climax when the sounds of their singing demand attention of people and brings their work to a standstill.  

Teej is the festival of the women of Nepal that exudes the devotion and love of married women towards their husbands. Although it is also celebrated by unmarried women who pray for an ideal husband in the future like Lord Shiva. The festival itself has its roots in the mythology of Lord Shiva and Parvati, who prayed for an ideal husband like Shiva and made a Shiva lingam in the depths of the forest to exhibit her devotion. In the modern world, women ideally fast and worship Lord Shiva for their husband’s long life and for a prosperous married life.

The Teej festival is an awaited festival for women especially for the women of Brahmin and Chettri origin, as they usually celebrate this festival with more rigidity than other groups of people. Teej festival usually falls on the 3rd day of Bhadra Shukla Pakshya i.e late August or early September. The first day of the festival is celebrated with lavish feasts that are organised by the parents of the married daughter in their home. In typical Nepali, this is known as ‘Dar Khane’. Typically the celebration and dancing begin from this day; women gather together, sing songs expressing their married lives or their sorrows and dance till the day comes to an end at 12 in the night. Teej suddenly becomes an outlet for their emotions whether joyous, regretful and sometimes frivolous.

The celebration thus does not end here. The second day is the main event wherein women fast for the whole day; some even refuse a drink of water believing that doing so would make their pleadings to Lord Shiva even more urgent and deserving. This devotion takes them to the various temples dedicated to Shiva, for instance the main Shiva temple of Nepal; Pashupatinath is flooded with women clad in red sarees and glass beads that worship Lord Shiva and pray for the fulfilment of their desires.

What is most amazing about women celebrating Teej is that the women belong to different castes in Nepal, many of whom do not have traces of Hinduism in their roots. But with increased assimilation, they have adopted Hinduism and the festivals that come with it and celebrate it with the fervour with all castes of women.  The second day of Teej is spent in fast and merry dance with women of their community.

The third day of Teej is the day that is dedicated to purification, also known as Rishi Panchami which literally means ‘saints’.  They also offer prayers to saint deities bathing with red mud, and brushing with datiwan (a type of bush tree). This ritual is essential as it is believed to be a way of purifying their sins and atoning for their sins.

Teej is an important festival for the Hindu woman as it is not only a day of lavish eating and dance, but in a subtle way, it is a way of revealing their sentiments and devotion. It is a celebration of being a woman and an intricate cohesion with one’s parents even after marriage.


Shuvekshya Limbu is a content writer at Nepal Traveller. 

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