At the time of Teej, women dress up like a newly wed. They wear green, red and yellow attires, decorate their hands and feet with fascinating mehndi designs and sing devotional songs on Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Women express their happiness, thank and pray God for marital bliss.
According to Hindu mythology Goddess Parvati reunited with Lord Shiva on this day. She went through hard-core tapasya or penance and took 108 births on the earth. The myth also states that she failed to have Lord Shiva as her husband till 107th birth. In her 108th birth, Lord Shiva realized her devotion and love for him and accepted her as his wife. It is said Goddess Parvati declared this moment to be highly auspicious for womenfolk and proclaimed that whoever invokes her on this day will be blessed with happy married life and whatever one desires. Women observe nirjala vrat and spend sleepless nights during the three day festival. This is symbolic to the penance which Goddess Parvati went through.
Determination of Date
Teej is decided on the basis of sunrise of Shravan Shukla Tritiya. If Tritiya with sun rise falls on two days then it is celebrated on second day when tritiya is connected with chaturthi. If it does not fall on any day then it is celebrated on first day.
How to Celebrate
All married and single women pray to Goddess Parvati for a blissful married life on this day. While married women pray for the well being, longevity and prosperity of their spouse and also for self purification, the unmarried women pray to Goddess Parvati to help them find a wonderful life partner. The festival also heralds the arrival of monsoons, which provides relief from the scorching heat to people and rejuvenate the dry parched fields. Since, rains means greenery and beauty all around in our country largely dependent on rains for irrigation, the festival is also called ‘Hariyali Teej’. People dress up in green-coloured clothes to celebrate the festival in its true spirit.
While it is an important festival in Rajasthan, Teej is also celebrated with a lot of fervour and zeal in the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat and Bihar. Women and young girls dress up in best of their clothes in green, red and yellow colour, apply beautiful patterns of ‘mehendi’ on their hands and feet, swings or ‘jhoolas’ are hung from big trees or on terraces and are decorated with flowers where women sing and dance in gay abandon. While some women observe ‘nirjala’ (without water) fasts to pray for their continued marital bliss, lavish feasts are prepared in most houses to be offered to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Elephants, camels, carts and chariots are part of the Teej procession in Jaipur.
Most married women go to their parental homes to celebrate the festival, especially during the first year of marriage. The women dress up in new clothes, usually gifted by their parents, and then gather together to fast, have fun and offer prayers to the Goddess Parvati, whose love and devotion to her husband, Lord Shiva, is considered an exemplar for others to follow. Engaged women also receive gifts (Shrinjhara) from their in-laws, which are symbols of their future married life. These include clothes, jewellery, bangles, mehendi, cosmetics and sweets. The festival is a three-day long celebration in Rajasthan. The festivities are organised with a lot of grandeur and zeal in Jaipur. An idol of the Goddess is decorated in red and gold garments, complete with jewellery and garlands, and is then taken out on streets in a spectacular ‘Teej’ procession, accompanied by chanting, hymns and folk songs. Thousands of devotees wait en route for hours to catch a glimpse of the Goddess Parvati. The procession becomes enthralling because of lively performances by a number of folk singers, dancers and other performers. Beautifully caparisoned elephants, camels, bullock carts and chariots add a lot of charm and splendour to the procession. Many foreign tourists also visit the city during the festival just to be a part of this special experience and to participate in fun-filled festivities. Goddess Parvati’s love and devotion to her husband Lord Shiva is considered an exemplar for others to follow.
Teej 'melas' or fairs are also organised in most villages and towns, where thousands of people gather to enjoy and participate in the revelry. Special music and folk dance programs are organised and swings are hung from trees, where groups of women and girls gather to swing. Even in Nepal, women celebrate this festival with a lot of enthusiasm by dressing up in red-coloured clothes and offering prayers at the famous Pashupatinath Temple. Another important ritual of the festival is to worship the Nyagrodha tree or Vat Vriksha, which is considered extremely auspicious as its branches symbolise knowledge. Swings are tied to this tree and women sing and dance while enjoying the showers. Teej is not just a festival. It is an opportunity to forget all your worries, thank God for the good things in life and to just celebrate being in love. Live it!!