Teej (तीज) is a fasting festival for Hindu women. It is mainly celebrated in Nepal and Haryana (India) and is considered as the most standard form of teej. It is also celebrated in some states of India but has almost vanished nowadays.
It takes place on the third day of Shukla Paksha (bright moon fortnight) of the Shraavana or Saawan month of Hindu calendar that normally falls from late July to early September. Dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva, the festival is celebrated for marital bliss, well-being of spouse and children and purification of own body and soul. The festival is a three-day-long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting.
Falling on the Hindu month of Bhadrapada or Bhado (August/September), it also celebrates the arrival of monsoon after a season of oppressive heat. “Teej” is a small red insect that comes out of the soil during rains.
The first day of Teej is called Dar Khane Din. On this day the women, both married and unmarried, mainly of Khas ethnicity, assemble at one place, in their finest attire and start dancing and singing devotional songs. Amidst all this, the grand feast takes place. The jollity often goes on till midnight, after which the 24-hour fast starts.
The second day is the fasting day. Some women live without a morsel of food and drops of water while others take liquid and fruit. On this day, they gaily dress and visit a nearbyShiva temple singing and dancing on the way. The Pashupatinath Temple gets the highest number of devotees. At the Shiva temple, women circumambulate the Shiva Linga, the symbol of the lord, offering flowers, sweets and coins. The main puja (religious ceremony) takes place with offerings of flowers, fruits, etc., made to Shiva and Parbati, beseeching them to grant their blessing upon the husband and family. The important part of the puja is the oil lamp which should be alight throughout the night.
The third day of the festival is Rishi Panchami. After the completion of the previous day’s puja, women pay homage to various deities and bathe with red mud found on the roots of the sacred datiwan bush, along with its leaves. This act of purification is the final ritual of Teej, after which women are considered absolved from all their sins. The recent years have witnessed an alteration in the rituals, especially concerning the severity, but its essence remains the same.
Teej is celebrated just before the first day of Ganesh Chaturthi. Women do 24-hour nirjala fasting (without water or fruit) for the wellness of their spouse and their married life and unmarried would be praying to get a nice husband.