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Haritalika Teej


Julia on Teej ,Nepali dress

ONE DAY IN THE YEAR WHEN THE ANCIENT VALLEY OF KATHMANDU GOES…RED, VIRTUALLY!!!

Women across Nepal fast today for their husbands… & future husbands on this rare public holiday strictly for women…ITS HARITALIKA TEEJ! This festival falls on the third day of the first fortnight (waxing moon) of the Hindu Calendar month-Bhadra which usually falls between August and September. This is truly women’s day in Nepal, most probably the happiest day for them in a whole year. It lasts for 3 days by the calendar. Women also see this day as a day of ‘FREEDOM’ in these contemporary times…

‘Haritalika Teej’ also called the festival of ‘Solah Shringar’ begins in Nepal today. Women in Nepal celebrate this festival with enormous passion and enthusiasm. Married ladies return to their parents’ home to celebrate the festival. By painstaking fasting and praying to Goddess Parvati on Hartalika Teej, women fast on the day of the festival. Some conservative women go the mile & even refrain from drinking water or swallowing saliva. They visit the temples in the neighborhood, perform rituals and chant prayers to appease Lord Shiva and ask for good health, long life and prosperity for their husbands. Unmarried single women also celebrate the festival with equal fervor in the hopes of finding a good husband like the lord shiva himself.

Songs of merriment about the festival echo throughout the land. Women, ranging in age from 15 to 70 years, gather all over the country on street corners & mainly temples, all decked in red. Some dance to the music, others clap, and some even play the “madal,” a traditional Nepali drum with clanging cymbals…its not uncommon to see some of them fainting due to the severe fasting they experience on this particular day…

Happy Teej

The first day of Teej is known as the ‘Dar Khane Din’ on which women - both married and unmarried - assemble in their finest red garments and sing devotional songs and dance to a frenzy. A grand feast consisting of sumptuous delicacies & local fares is held on this day. Females eat to their hearts content highly nutritious food because the following day is a day of complete fasting to please the gods so the gods may enhance the prosperity of their husbands & bless the unmarried ones with loving partners…

The second day is a day of fasting. Some women undertake fasting without a single morsel of food or even a drop of water, but most women eat something - fruits, for example, and drink fluids.
This is the day of the main ritual which is held in most Shiva temples. Most worship activities take place in the Pashupatinath Temple, where women walk around the Shiva lingam offering flowers, sweets and money. Shiva and Parvati are worshipped so that their blessings may allow the family to flourish. The oil diya (lamp) plays an important role in the puja - it must be kept burning throughout the night because it is considered a bad omen if the light dies out.

The third day is known as Rishi Panchami. After devotional rituals of the previous day, women pay homage to various gods and goddesses and bathe in the holy red mud that is found at the base of the ‘Datiwan’ bush. This act apparently absolves women of all sins and is the last ritual of Teej.

To go by Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati obtained Lord Shiva as her groom after doing penance through several stages of her life. In her 108th life, finally Lord Shiva recognized her devotion for him and accepted her as his wife. This story has become the base for the foundation of this festival.

If your travel to Nepal coincides during the Teej festival, its common to see groups of women and girls, all dressed in red saris and blouses singing and dancing almost everywhere. If you are in Kathmandu, the most extravagant sight today will be the temple premises of Pashupatinath. This is ONE DAY IN THE YEAR WHEN THE ANCIENT VALLEY OF KATHMANDU GOES…RED, VIRTUALLY!!! It’s a day that literally grips your emotional senses…Teej is celebrated as a public holiday in Nepal.

 

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