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What is the Significance of Teej festival in India?

In India, different festivals are held to commemorate various seasons. The monsoon season is also very auspicious and important for many Indian communities, as agriculture employs the majority of the population and relies on rainfall for irrigation. We have many reasons to rejoice at the arrival of this season and one of the ways to do it is by celebrating Teej. Through the festival of Teej, Hindu women, and girls celebrate the abundance of nature, greenery, and rain by indulging in music, dance, and other rituals performed along with family and friends.

The Teej Festival celebrates the coming of the monsoons that bring the rains essential for the crops and the kingdom's prosperity. The timely arrival of the rains was considered divine confirmation of the king's just rule. Traditionally during this festival, women and girls play on swings. In the river, girls swim with brass pots used for flotation, along with men, horses, and cows. As the person of highest rank, the king is the largest of all the figures, riding on a gorgeously ornamented horse.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

When is Teej festival celebrated?

The word ‘Teej’ means third, which refers to the third day after the new moon and the third day after the full moon night of every month of the monsoon season. Therefore, Teej is celebrated on the third day of the waxing (the phase from a new moon to a full moon) and waning moons (the phase from a full moon and new moon) of the Hindu months of Shravan and Bhadrapad.

There are three Teej festivals, known as Hariyali Teej, Kajari Teej, and Hartalika Teej.

1. Hariyali Teej:

Hariyali means greenery. Hence, Hariyali Teej is celebrated to cherish the abundance of greenery brought by the rains. It also represents the richness and satisfaction of a happy married life. Since it falls in the month of Shravan, it is also known as Sindhara Teej or Shravan Teej. It is commonly celebrated in Rajasthan, Punjab, and Haryana.

2. Kajari Teej:

Kajari Teej is also known as Boorhi Teej and is celebrated on the third day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapad. Especially in Uttar Pradesh, women pray to Lord Shiva during this festival and sing folk songs, known as ‘kajaris’. There is also a rural fair that is held on this occasion for two days in Bundi, Rajasthan. Kajari Teej is observed in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and some parts of Madhya Pradesh.

3. Hartalika Teej:

Hartalika Teej is celebrated on the third day of the bright half of the North Indian lunar month of Bhadrapad. The word ‘Hartalika’ consists of two words - 'harit' meaning 'abduction’ and ‘aalika’ meaning female friend. According to a legend, Goddess Parvati’s father was about to marry her to Lord Vishnu against her wish. So, her friends abducted her and took her into a deep forest because they knew she wanted to marry Lord Shiva. In the forest, Parvati performed penance and immersed herself in devotion to Shiva for many years. This story has significance even today, as it highlights the right of women to marry a person of their choice. Hartalika Teej is mostly celebrated in Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, and Jharkhand.

The Mythological Significance behind Teej

Along with celebrating nature and monsoon, the festival of Teej is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and her holy union with Lord Shiva.
Source: Wikimedia Commons

Along with celebrating nature and monsoon, the festival of Teej is dedicated to Goddess Parvati and her holy union with Lord Shiva. According to Hindu mythology, Devi Parvati is an incarnation of Sati, Lord Shiva’s first wife. Sati’s father strongly disapproved of her relationship with Lord Shiva, due to which she decided to sacrifice her life. Lord Shiva was heartbroken, and Sati had to go through 108 cycles of birth and rebirth to get him to accept her as his wife again. Goddess Parvati was her 108th birth. Since then, this day is considered to be auspicious and is celebrated as Teej. That is why Goddess Parvati is also known as Teej Mata.

Where is it Celebrated?

Teej is observed in different parts of India, especially in the western and northern states and in Nepal. Each state has its rituals and traditions, yet, the significance remains the same for everyone. The Sindhi community also celebrates this festival by the name of Teejri.

 Festival of teej in India
Source: Wikimedia Commons by Pradeep Kumar Chatterjee

If you want to experience the festivities of Teej in full swing, head to Jaipur, especially during Hariyali Teej, when the celebrations are the most grandiose. There is a magnificent two-day procession that goes through the lanes of the Old City. The idol of Goddess Parvati is carried during the procession and is called Teej Mata ki Sawari. You will also see decorated elephants, camels, horses, bullock carts, chariots, and dancers.

Customs and Rituals:

Hindus celebrate Teej with great pomp and glory. Women dance, sing songs and share stories and folklore with family and friends. Women gather to hear the legends related to the festival called "Teej Katha" and pray for the good health of their husbands. They apply henna on their hands and dress up in their finest attire and jewellery.

On Teej, Hindu women and girls apply henna on their hands and dress up in their finest attire and jewellery.
Source: Unsplash

On this occasion, many women observe a full-day fast and pray all night for the well-being of their families. This fast is a tribute to the penance that Devi Parvati had to go through for more than 100 years till she got married to Lord Shiva again. The fast is complete only when the moon appears in the sky and is followed by a delicious feast. Women worship the Goddess and sing special Teej songs with their friends and family. You will also find swings attached to the branches of trees, and women enjoy themselves by taking turns swinging on them. There is also a custom of lighting an oil lamp throughout the day.

Unmarried girls also take part in the celebrations and pray for a husband of their choice. Girls who are engaged receive gifts like bangles, sweets, and clothes from their to-be in-laws a day before the occasion. Married women receive gifts from their parents. Certain traditional foods like sabudana kheer, coconut laddoos, Ghewar (a Rajasthani sweet dish), Dal Bati Churma, Besan Laddoos, and aloo halwa are prepared during this festival.

The festival of Teej is a very elevating and pleasurable occasion. The rituals and traditions that surround the festival focus on the happiness and well-being of the whole family. This festival not only brings people together but also holds a special significance for women. On this day, Goddess Parvati finally got married to the one she wished for after years of penance. Thus through Teej, women seek her blessings so that they too can have a strong and happy married life, like that of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.

Ria Kanchan


Ria Kanchan

Pratha Content Writing Intern

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