Children you must have heard about the festival of Teej. But do you know the reason for its celebration. The festival is marked by fasting of women who pray to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati seeking their blessings for marital bliss. It is a series of festivals that occur during the month of Shravan or Sawan and Bhadrapada or Bhado, that corresponds to the Bharat’s monsoon season of July – August – September.
Three types of Teej
There are three types of Teej celebrated during the monsoon months.
Hariyali Teej falls in the Shukla Paksha of Shravana. On this day, women worship moon with milk, curd and flowers. As the name suggests, Haryali Teej is mainly related with greenery. It is commemorated for abundance of greenery and also a good harvest.
It falls on Krishna Paksh Tritiiya. On this day, women sing and dance and perform sacred pooja of neem tree. Kajari Teej falls on the third day of the month of shravan and is most popularly celebrated in a small district of Rajasthan called Bundi. On this day, there is a community pooja of neem tree and a procession is carried out by women with a tableau of Goddess Parvati.
Hartalika Teej falls on the third day of the first fortnight of the month of Bhadra. At the time of Hartalika Teej, women keep 'Nirjala Vrat' for well – being of their husbands.
Celebrations of Teej
Swings are often hung from trees or placed in the courtyard of homes and decked with flowers. Young girls and married women apply mehendi or henna tattoos on this auspicious occasion. Women wear beautiful saris and adorn themselves with jewelry, and visit temples to offer their special prayers to Goddess Parvati. A special sweet called ghewar is prepared and distributed as prasad or divine offering.
Story of Teej
It is believed that the name of this festival comes from a small red insect called ‘Teej’ that emerges from the earth during the monsoon season. It was on this day, Parvati came to the Shiva’s abode, marking the union of the husband and wife. It exemplifies the sacrifice of a wife to win the mind and heart of her husband.
It is said that Parvati carried out a rigorous fast for 108 years to prove her love and devotion for Lord Shiva, before he accepted her as his wife. Some scriptures say that she was born 107 times before she was reborn as Parvati, and at her 108th birth she was granted the boon to be the wife of Shiva because for her long penance and perseverance over many births. Hence, Teej is celebrated to honour the devotion of Parvati, who is also known as 'Teej Mata,' by those who observe this auspicious day when women seek her blessings for a happy married life and a devoted husband like Lord Shiva.
Teej – A Monsoon Festival
Teej is not a pan-Bharatiya festival. It is mainly celebrated in Nepal and the north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab in various forms. At the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, women circumambulate the Shiva Linga and perform a special Puja of Shiva and Parvati.
In northern and western India, Teej celebrates the arrival of monsoon after the hot months of summer. It has a broader significance in the western Indian arid State of Rajasthan as it is observed to provide relief from the scorching heat of summer. Rajasthan Tourism organises a Teej fair called ‘Sawan Mela’ or ‘Monsoon Festival’ every year to showcase the customs and traditions of the State during this time. In Rajasthan a massive Teej Mata procession is taken out called the ‘Teej Mata Palki’ so that the general public can pray to the festival Goddess and get their desires fulfilled. The idol is offered fruits, milk, chapati, nookti, ghewar and pure jal by saints performing prayers and chanting holy shlokas. Special Teej fairs called ‘Teelan’ are organised which form a unique feature of the festival’s celebration.
Worshipping Teej Mata
Charmingly decorated idol of Goddess Parvati is kept at the centre of the place where women gather to offer Teej prayers. Different Teej songs are sung praising Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Women dance merrily on various Teej and sawan songs and enjoy the festive mood.
Worship of Vat Vriksha
Another important ritual is to worship Nyagrodha tree or Vat Vriksha. The tree is considered highly auspicious with its hanging branches reflecting knowledge. Women tie swings to the Vat Vriksha and dance while enjoying the showers of rain.
Tradition of Fasting
Women both married and unmarried observe Teej fast in which they do not even take a sip of water. They keep a 24-hour long fast as it is believed that the invocation of Parvati's blessings on this day results in continued marital bliss.
Significance of Teej
The importance of Teej is mainly two-fold: First, as a festival for women, Teej celebrates the victory of a wife's love and devotion towards her husband – an important factor in Hinduism – symbolised by the union of Shiva and Parvati.
Secondly Teej ushers in the advent of the monsoons – the season of rains bringing in a reason to celebrate when people can take a break from the sweltering heat and enjoy the swing of the monsoon – “Sawan ke jhooley.”
Since Bharat is a land of varied culture and traditions, Teej is a festival that creates a unique bond among the women across the country. It is not just a festival but a tradition of our rich culture and heritage.