What Is Teej?Teej is a festival that is celebrated most commonly in the northern parts of India and is not one, but actually a collection of three different celebrations. Teej puja is normally a celebration for women, where they pray to Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati and rejoice their union. It is believed that unmarried girls keep this fast to attain a husband like Shiva and married women pray to Goddess Parvati that their married life be as blessed as the holy one. The festival is also meant as a welcome to the monsoon season, as a good monsoon will ensure good harvest.
Teej technically refers to the third day of the month, after the new moon, and the third day of the month, after the full moon of every month, as per the lunar calendar. The festival, which is celebrated in the monsoon season is meant to welcome the rains, but also the greenery and bounty of nature that ensues. Women get together to celebrate this festival by wearing bright clothes, sharing sweets and gifts, singing, dancing and playing on swings.
What Are The Types Of Teej?Teej is not just one day – Teej is actually a collection of three festivals and each has a slight difference.
Hariyali teej – Also referred to as Singhara Teej, this teej is observed on the third day of the Shukla paksha of the lunar month of the Shravana month as per the Hindu calendar. Hariyali refers to greenery and this is an ode to the greenery that covers the land, during the monsoon season. This is also considered to be the day when Lord Shiva accepted Parvati as his wife, which is why Lord Shiva idols especially those where he is with Parvati, are much in demand at this time.
Moreover, this is an important festival for newly married women, as they visit their houses and are gifted many items by their parents and family members. These gifts are known as Sindhara (a word that comes from shringar) and include new clothes, bangles, items of makeup such as bindi and mehendi as well as sweets, particularly ghewar. In states like Haryana, the hariyali teej festival is celebrated with much fervour and the day is an official holiday too. Women get decked up and sing songs and dance to folk tunes – Gidda is a popular Teej related dance that is done in Punjab and Chandigarh. Swings are set up for girls and women to swing on and boys are often seen flying kites. In the evening, much like on Karva Chauth, the women get all dressed up and meet in a common place, where an idol or photo of Goddess Parvati will have been set up, and in front of that photo or idol, there will be incense holders with lighted incense sticks. After the pooja is done, there is singing, dancing, and sharing of sweets and other food items. In the state of Rajasthan, processions are taken out in honour of Mata Parvati and the festivities are spread over two days.
- Kajari Teej – Also known as Badi Teej, Kajari teej is a festival that is most commonly observed in Rajasthan, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar. The day falls on the third day of the dark fortnight of Bhadrapada. Yet again, this is a festival that is meant to welcome the onset of the monsoon season and the union of Shiva and Parvati. The most famous Kajari Teej celebration takes place in the city of Bundi in Rajasthan, where the entire city is decorated and processions of Teej Mata or Goddess Parvati are taken out onto the streets. Most women will observe a strict fast on this day, avoiding food and water, wear new clothes, apply mehendi on their hands and then break the fast only in the evening, after doing the pooja. In some parts of India, the neem tree is worshipped, under the directions of a pundit or priest. Several folk songs have been created particularly for this day and most of these songs depict the pining that a married woman has for her parents and her childhood home. These days, parents choose Teej gifts online for their daughters, especially the married ones.
- Hartalika teej – Hartalika is normally celebrated over a period of three days, during the month of Bhadrapada. The word hartalika is a combination of two words – harit which means abduction and aalika which refers to a female friend. Legend states that on the third day of the Bhadrapada, Parvati made a Shivalinga using sand and silt from the river Ganga and prayed to it. Pleased by her devotion, Shiva promised to marry her. Apparently, Parvati’s friend had to abduct her away from her father, so that she can do her pooja; hence the name hartalika. On these three days, women and young girls keep the hartalika vrat, which involves nirjala vrat, or fast without any food or even water. It is believed that women who keep a fast on this day have their desires fulfilled by Lord Shiva – several young girls keep this fast in the hopes of getting a husband like Shiva, while married women keep this fast to maintain a happy married life, just like Shiva and Parvati’s. In the evenings, the women will get dressed up and do a pooja for Parvati, before opening their fast.
Why is Teej celebrated?As is the case with most festivals in India, there is a story behind teej as well – the hartalika teej vrat katha goes something like this:
Goddess Parvati wanted to marry Lord Shiva, but he being an ascetic had no idea about her existence. She performed several poojas and practised austerity to please him. Her father, Himalaya was worried about this daughter and on the advice of Narad Muni, promised her hand in marriage to Lord Vishnu. In order to escape the marriage, Parvati asked her own friend to abduct her and take her away somewhere far. It was only after many years of prayer and penance that Shiva noticed her and promised to marry her.
How Is Hartalika Teej Festival Celebrated?This festival that tends to fall during the months of July and August is one for the women – married and unmarried women will wake up early in the morning and fast through the day, without so much as water. For Haryali and Kajari teej, married women will visit their parents’ house, but they will return to their in-laws’ home for the celebration of Hartalika teej. Gift for teej festival is common and are given to women from both their parents and their in-laws. These could include new clothes, jewellery, items of shringar like sindoor, bindi, mehendi and various sweets.
How Is The Hartalika Puja Done?The method for the hartalika puja and all other teej pujas is pretty much the same – women will wake early in the morning and get ready in new clothes. They will keep a fast for the entire day, many choosing to keep a nirjala or without water, vrat. In the evening, they will get all dressed up and meet at a nearby temple or garden. They will form a semi-circle with an idol of Goddess Parvati in the middle (these days, you will be able to find god idols online on sites like ours with ease). The pooja begins with offering of flowers, incense, fruits and sweets. Offerings are made to the goddess and the teej puja samagri include items of marital bliss, such as sindoor, mehendi, bindi, kajal, bangles, toe rings and clothes. Food is often offered to young girls and brahmins. Once the pooja is over, women will indulge in singing and dancing and of course, food.
If you too are planning to celebrate Teej, we suggest that you do your decor shopping at eCraftIndia, where you can find everything from pooja thalis to decorative brass diyas online.