India is the land of festivals and celebrations. Just as in the case of several other Hindu festivals, many traditions and rituals are associated with Teej celebrations. Rooted deep in Indian religious and cultural ethos – Teej plays a significant role in defining the true nature of relationship between a married- couple. According to traditional Hindu lunar calendar, festival of Hartalika Teej falls on the third day of the fortnight in the Bhadrapad month. This year, it falls on September 1. If considered from Gregorian calendar, Hindu month Bhado falls between August and September. Hartalika Teej is the generally celebrated in North India. People from Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar celebrate this festival with great zeal and gusto. Festival of Hartalika Teej is dedicated to Maa Hartalika, who is none other than Goddess Parvati. Hartalika Teej is celebrated to commemorate the day when Lord Shiva accepted the love of Parvati. Teej coincides with monsoon season and thus, create a greater impact for its celebration. Taking full advantage of the beautiful climate at this time, women enjoy themselves by swinging, singing and dancing in rain.
Legend behind Hartalika Teej
According to the Hindu mythology, Maa Parvati was in love with Lord Shiva. However, he was an ascetic and had no interest in worldly stuff. Goddess Parvati decided to put all her efforts to make Shiva know about her love for him. She did a tough penance of thousands of years in Himalayas. Finally, Lord Shiva noticed the Goddess and realising her love, he married her. Since then, Goddess Parvati is being worshipped as Hartalika and Teej Mata. On the 3rd day (teej) after the new moon in the month of Bhadrapad Goddess Parvati went to the house of lord Shiva, her husband and was united with him. Mostly women celebrate this festival to get a husband like Lord Shiva and if they are already married then they pray for the long life of their husband.
This day is celebrated as Teej all over India and especially so in Maharashtra. Both married and unmarried Hindu women observe the three-day-long festival seeking blissful married life and happiness for their husband. Teej is the most important day amongst all. On this day, women observe a tough fast that excludes even water. In Sanskrit, it is known as Nirjala Vrat, also known as Hartalika Vrat. In the evening, all women worship Goddess Parvati and only have food and water on the next day.
At the time of Hartalika Teej, women go back to their husbands. Hence, they adorn themselves with beautiful clothes, shimmering jewellery and eye-catchy make-up. On this day, women decorate themselves like a new bride. In Indian tradition, women do ‘Solah Shringar’ to adorn themselves. Literal meaning of Solah Shringar is the adornment using 16 elements. Some of them are Henna tattoo on hands, Kohl in eyes, Bindi on forehead and Mahawar design on feet. Along with themselves, women also decorate the idols of Maa Parvati in the similar way. Beautifully decorated swings are hung from trees in the garden and gaily dressed up women swing and sing traditional Teej songs. Some women also dance while singing the holy songs.
Woman celebrating the first Teej receives a lot of gifts from their parents, parents-in-law and loved ones. Husbands especially make sure that they gift something beautiful and memorable to their sweet wife. Some even pamper their wife with a gift of diamond or gold jewellery.
Parents-in-law gift their daughter-in-law ‘Shrinjhara’ or ‘Sindhare’ which is a part of auspicious Teej rituals. The word ‘shrinjhara’ has a very literal meaning that is adornment. Parents-in-law gift it to their daughter-in-law so that they can adorn themselves the way they want to. It consists of traditional laheria dress, lac bangles, henna, sindhur and sweets like ghewar. Some daughters-in-law observing fast also receive money from their father-in-law to buy anything of their choice. Sometimes, mother-in-law create an everlasting impression on their bahu(daughter -in-law) by gifting the most special and dear thing of hers.
Parents and relatives usually present clothes, jewellery, dry fruits and other Teej special gifts to the newly wed bride. For the onlookers, major attraction for Teej includes Teej Fair, colourful dances, folk songs, and Teej Puja process. In recent years, Teej festival has started attracting of a large number of foreign tourists. It is also about strengthening the bond between a couple, family and women. Apart from this, Hartalika Teej gives you another reason to party. Fetch the immense blessings of Goddess Parvati by performing Hartalika Puja in a proper way. May Teej Mata or Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva bless all of you and Spread into your life Peace, Prosperity, Happiness and Good Health.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)