Teej is the fasting festival of women in Nepal. It falls in the month of August or early September. Married women observe Teej fast to honor Lord Shiva and for long and healthy life of their husband. Unmarried girls also observe fast on this day for a good husband. Teej celebrations lasts for three pious days. Traditional dances and songs form an important feature of Teej celebrations. Red color is considered auspicious for women observing Teej fast and so most of them dress up in red or bridal clothes.
Teej is an annual festival of Nepali women. The festival is celebrated with utmost dedication and love by the women in Nepal. Preparations for the festival begin well in advance. Fabric stores, sarees and suit outlets are stocked with the bridal red color fabric. Women spend most of the time shopping when Teej is near.
Teej festival celebrations are carried further with sumptuous feasts and traditional performances. On this day, women dress up beautifully. They clad themselves in red colored apparels, wear glass bangles, heavy ornaments and apply henna. Teej gives women an opportunity to dress like the newly wed. They worship the epitome of divine marriage – Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, for longevity and prosperity for their husband and family.
Three Days of Teej
Teej is a three-day-long festival in Nepal and each day has its own significance.
First day is called ‘Dar Khane Din’, the day to make merry.
Second day is a ‘fasting day’.
The third day is called ‘Rishi Panchami’ in Nepal which is a day to perform Teej Puja.
Dar Khane Din
The first day of Teej in Nepal is called the ‘Dar Khane Din’. On this day, the womenfolk dressed in the finest clothed gather at one place and perform traditional dance and sing devotional songs. A special food called ‘dar’ is eaten. Celebrations continue till midnight after which the 24-hour-long fast begins.
The second or the fasting day of the Teej festival is dedicated to pujas and prayers. The holy Pashupatinath temple is thronged by women in red sarees to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Women gather in the temple and circumambulate the Lingam (phallic symbol of the Lord) adorned with flowers, sweets and coins. The beautifully decorated idols of Shiva and Parvati are offered fruits and flowers to seek blessings of the divine spirits. Lighting of an oil lamp is very important part of the puja ceremony. It is said that the oil lamp should be kept lit all night to avoid bad omen.
The third day of the Teej Festival is called Rishi Panchami. On this day, the seven sages of the Hindu pantheon are worshiped by women in a belief that it will cleanse all sins of the previous year. Womenfolk take a holy bath with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datiwan bush, along with its leaves. After three hours of rigorous cleansing, they come out purified and absolved from all sins. After this they sit in a semicircle while a priest sitting in the middle chants devotional prayers.