Teej is a festival of women of women’s strength, of women’s devotion to their family, and of women’s divine role, exemplified by the Goddess Parbati, wife of lord Shiva.
Long ago, in the mythological past, Parbati, daughter of god Himalaya, fell in love with lord Shiva. Although offered the hand of the great lord Vishnu, She was devoted to Shiva, the divine asetic sitting alone in meditation on the summit of mount Kailash.
Shiva ignored her and Parbati, despite her father, wishes, changed her fine raiment for the simplest clothes and began a long fast, praying to lord Shiva to rise from his meditation and take her has his wife. Parbati’s devotion and austerities finally won lord Shiva’s heart. Hindu women fast during Teej to express devotion to there husbands as Parbati expressed devotion to Shiva.
The first day of Teej is not a fast, but a women’s feast. Women fill the marketplaces, buying the richest, most luscious foods they can find, for on this day the husband cannot argue with the cost, even if he has to take a loan to pay for it. Men have a reuful saying, ” A Women observing her Teej fast often consumes a whole bushel of corn.”
The Women gather together in the afternoon or evening, the children and men are shooed out, and the pre-fasting party begins. Mothers and daughters, sisters and grandmothers sit around, laughing and joking and eating all they can, for at midnight the fast begins. Songs are sung and perhaps a few twirling steps are taken for Teej is one of the very new times considered proper for a Women to sing or dance.
On the second day, Women take no food or water, it is said that day they do not even swallo their own saliva. Women past puberty participate-the wedded for there husbands, the unmarried for assurance of a good mate. In some households, the Women serve their husbands with special care on this day.
This is one of the most colourful days of the year, as the streets are filled with groups of laughing, singing Women, all dressed in their bright red wedding saris, on their way to Pashupatinath Temple to pay homage to lord Shiva and Goddess Parbati.
At the temple of Shiva, on the Banks of the sacred Bagmati river, the women give offering of flower, coins and rice to the great lingam, or phallic image of lord Shiva.
The final day is called Rishi Panchami. In the morning the wife completes the seremonies begun the previous day. She offers prasad, food received and blessed by the Gods to her husband.
Now women make their way to sacred spots along the rivers for ritual bath of purification. Special red mud is daubed 360 times on different parts of the body.
A sacred plant, called Dattiwan, is used to prinkle water over the head and to brush the teeth, each 360 times. Finally, submersion in the sacred waters of the river washes away the faults and transgressions of the past year.