Where once beauty defined itself, today it is being defined.
Everything in this world unfolds a story; you just need to look closer. The story that I am going to tell has been forever young for the celebration it brings to life on every Shrawan. The story itself isn’t new in our country for it is narrated on this celebration. It all started when Parvati observed austerity to reunite with Shiva for she wanted to have him as her husband. When Shiva and Parvati patched up, the legacy of Teej set a path to be followed for years by women.
Lord Shiva is popular as the ideal male icon. Traditionally, women all over the country fast to have a husband who resembles the qualities of the Lord Shiva while married women prayed to Shiva for a prosperous and healthy life for their husbands and their families.
Green bangles, red saris, jewelry and red tika define this month. ‘Shringar’ meaning embellishment is a sight for sore eyes on this day. Prolonging for three days Teej starts off with ‘dar Khane’ the day when women head to their ‘Maita’ (maternal home) and join a feast before the fasting. Dancing through the night they sing merrily “teej ko lahara ayo bari lai…”
“Time has changed now, today people receive dar even before the ‘dar khane din’ arrives, it’s become more a festival of flaunting saris and jewelry – wish it retained the same innocence” sighs Bimala Ghimire a regular women abiding by Teej every year. The day after Teej women worship Shiva commencing their 24 hour fast. The third day brings in Rishi Panchami, to mark which women pay homage to various deities and also present a feast to seven rishis (sage). Women bathe with red mud from the Tulasi’s plant (Ocimum Tenuiflorum) and purify themselves.
Over the years, the festival has undergone a lot of changes – people today celebrate it not just as a women’s festival but also as a festival that brings the family together. The essence of the Teej still breathes among us but it’s hard to state that it has remained the same. Every year it struggles to retain its traditional ways. But perhaps allowing some change for relevance is not such a bad idea.