Teej Festival is mainly a festival of Indian women, both married and unmarried. It is festival of swings, bangles, dance, sweet dishes prepared by parents for their daughters, receiving and buying gifts in from of bridal clothes, bangles and indulgence in joy and happiness.
There are three Teej festivals in a year. These three Teej festivals are Haryali Teej, Kajari Teej and Hartalika Teej. In Haryali Teej, Moon is worshipped. In Kajari Teej, the whole community worships the Neem tree in which women sign songs in praise of Paravati and Lord Shiva. The pooja on this occasion is done with milk, curd and flowers. The toughest festival for women is Hartalika Teej. In this Teej, the fast is kept for three days. On the second day, not even water is taken for the whole day. This festival is equated to Karvachauth, another festival of married women in India.
Main Customs and Rituals:
The married women visit their parent’s house. The parents give gifts to the women and wish a fruitful and successful married life. The married women pray to Paravati and Lord Shiva. The Paravati idol is decked with new clothes. She is worshipped and prayed for giving long life to their husbands. The unmarried women pray for the prospective husbands. The newly engaged women (In India, arranged marriage, or Brahma Vivaha is considered the right marriage out of the eight form of marriages) receive gifts from their future in-laws and married women of their own family. The women apply henna and Mehndi on their hands and feet and sign folk songs accompanied with vigorous folk dances and playing on swings. They tie swings from a Vat tree and singsongs in praise of goddess Parvati, dance vigorously and wish for the long married life. In Rajasthan, the women perform Ghumar dance as an essential ritual.
Another important ritual is to worship Nyagrodha tree (Ficus Bengalensis) or Vat Vrikhsha. The tree is considered symbol of knowledge. The Vat tree is with its hanging branches is considered auspicious and origin of the city Baroda in Vidharbha region of Gujarat.
The main ceremony is to keep fast at the parent’s home by the married women. They go for shopping and receive bridal clothes from the parents and in-laws. They tie swings from Vat Brikhsa and dance and sing songs. In evening, they receive Baya (a pious food as a gift and present considered highly auspicious) from their parents. They gather at one place. They establish an idol of Paravati or visit Shiva Parvati temple. They propitiate Mata Parvati. They then break their fast with Baya received from parents and in-laws and then bust in dance making it a festival of joy and dance.
The Teej festival, especially Haryalli Teej is celebrated on the third days of Shravan month (July August generally identified with arrival of monsoon in India). The festival is more popular in Rajasthan and among the Rajput women. As many of the Jat families of Punjab have their origin in Rajput families since the days of Guru Har Rai, therefore, it is also popular among the Jat women of Punjab. The festival is equally popular in Maharashtra, Bihar, Orissa, Uttar Pardesh, Harayana and Madhya Pardesh. It is also a very popular festival in Nepal where Pashupatinath is the propitiated during the festival. In Nepal also it is mainly a festival of women. The Teej of rainy season is more popular. It has variation from place to place and state to state. In Haryana, it is celebrated on arrival of monsoon when an insect "Teej" appears near the trees. In Rajasthan, it is mainly popular for buying season and dance of Ghumar with ghagra decked with shinning bits by the Rajasthani women. In Uttar Pardesh and Maharashtra, it is mainly popular for the sweets which are made during this occasion.
The mythology Reference – Historic perspective:
According to Hindu Mythology, it is a festival which celebrate the union of Mother Paravati with Lord Shiva. As per the mythology, Parvati, the daughter of Parvat, the king of Himalaya, reached the house of her husband on 3rd day of Saravan or Shukla Tritiya of Saravan that is third day of full moon (Rainy season, Shukal Paksha) after completing a long penance of one hundred years during which even Lord Shiva had also went into a deep meditation. It was during such separation, that Lord Shiva appeared in his incarnation of Lord Hanuman as per the Shiva Purana. On the day, Mata Parvati again united with Lord Shiva after a long period of separation. Therefore, it is also known as Madhursravani. Hence, it is considered an occasion for unmarried women to sing song and wish for an ideal husband. The married women thus wish long lasting union with their husbands. It is considered highly auspicious and essential that the women receive fresh bridal dress from their parents. The Songs are considered as symbol of future happiness. The swings are symbols of serenity and noble life of perfect union.
National Efforts on Teej:
Indra Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) had used Teej of Shukla Tritiya of Saravan or Haryali Teej as day for organising seminar for Folk heritage and art in association with JNU and Jamia Milia Islamia in year 2002. The scholars sat together, shared their research and planned for future research in field of folk heritage and art.
Teej on Wikipedia
Rajasthan Travel Guide
Harayana Online (non-official)
Ibbetson, Caste and Tribes of Punjab, Vol 1. (Kindly note, that reference to this source in above articles is mainly based on my personal notes during college days. At that time, I was not all that trained to maintain the right references.)
Manasullas, Thirteen century dictionary. (Kindly note, that reference to this source in above articles is mainly based on my personal notes during college days. At that time, I was not all that trained to maintain the right references.)
Shiva Purana, Gita Press, Haridwar.
Manu Samriti and Yakvalkya Smriti.