Teej is not just a festival; it is an emotional outlet for women to express their joys, pains, and sorrows that have accumulated over the year
Nepal's rich cultural tapestry is adorned with a myriad of festivals, each carrying its own unique significance and traditions. One such celebration is the Teej festival, a four-day extravaganza that predominantly showcases the vibrant culture of Nepali Hindu women. While Teej was once celebrated exclusively in Nepal, recent years have seen its popularity surge across the border in India, thanks to increased media coverage.
Day One: Dar and Fasting
The Teej festival kicks off with great anticipation as Nepali Hindu women prepare to embark on a four-day fasting journey. On the first day, they break their fast by consuming "dar," a special meal. This meal holds a place of honor in the Teej festivities and is lovingly prepared by women to commence their fast. The dishes typically consist of pure milk-based delicacies that provide sustenance throughout the fasting period. Experts suggest that consuming wheat bread and ghee can help participants better endure the fasting days without discomfort.
Building Strength for the Fast
To fortify themselves for the challenging days ahead, those observing the Teej fast indulge in sweet and savory dishes on the day preceding the fast, typically Tuesday. In a heartwarming tradition, in-laws and brothers lovingly feed their daughters, sisters, and sisters-in-law. Professor Toyraj Nepal, a theologian, recommends that participants consume two portions of food at night to prepare for the fasting days.
A Festival of Emotions
Teej is not just a festival; it is an emotional outlet for women to express their joys, pains, and sorrows that have accumulated over the year. Through songs and public celebrations, women share their experiences and bond in solidarity. Teej provides a platform for women to commemorate their challenges and triumphs while living within the confines of their households.
Challenges of Modernization
In recent years, Teej has experienced a transformation that has raised concerns among cultural experts and sociologists. The once-traditional festival has taken on a more riotous and flamboyant character, with a growing emphasis on ostentatious displays of jewelry and attire. Sociologist Kirtikumar Rai warns that these changes threaten to distort the core culture of Teej, overshadowing its true essence. Experts argue that these developments may alienate those who wish to preserve the festival's original spirit.
The Four-Day Teej Festival
Teej officially begins with the consumption of dar and continues until Rishi Panchami. The festival's highlights include the culmination of Teej with Haritalika Vrat on the third day, worship of Lord Ganesha on the fourth day, and Saptarishi worship with Arundhati on the fifth day. Notably, the festival includes Ganesh Chaithi and Rishi Panchami, commemorating the birth of Lord Ganesha. This year, both festivals fall on Tuesday, Ashwim 2, as per the approved calendar.
The mythological roots of Haritalika
Teej's origin lies in a captivating mythological tale. In the Satya Yuga, Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas, sought to marry Lord Shiva through penance at Gaurighat. When her father, Himalaya, attempted to marry her off to Lord Vishnu against her wishes, Parvati confided in her friends. In response, her friends spirited her away to a secret location where she could remain hidden. Parvati then fasted and received Lord Shiva as her husband. This event is believed to have occurred on Bhadra Shukla Tritiya, marking the genesis of the Teej festival.
Teej is not merely a festival; it is a reflection of Nepali culture, tradition, and women's experiences. As it gains popularity beyond Nepal's borders, the festival's core essence should not be overshadowed by extravagant displays. Teej is a time to celebrate unity, resilience, and the enduring spirit of women while also honoring its rich mythological roots. By preserving these values, Teej will continue to be a vibrant and cherished festival for generations to come.