Teej Observed Amid COVID-19 Pandemic (Photo Feature)

21st Aug, 2020 | Tourism Mail Crew

The ‘Teej’ festival, also called ‘Haritalika’ is being observed by Nepali Hindu women today throughout the country.

This year the Festival which is often celebrated with fanfare could be a damp squib due to the risk of COVID-19 unlike in the past when the day was observed by both married and unmarried girls and women with much fervor. On this day that falls on the third dark day of the lunar month as per the Nepali month of Bhadra, married women and unmarried alike perform various ‘pujas’ (worship) and observe fasting. While the married women pray for the fulfillment of their wish for a happy and prosperous conjugal life, the unmarried ones worship Lord Shiva and Parbati, believing to be blessed with an eligible groom.

A day before ‘Teej’ on the night of the second day of the fortnight in the month of Bhadra, women enjoy a variety of delicacies known as ‘Dar’. According to the ‘Skanda Puran’ (a religious scripture of the Hindus), this festival got the name ‘Haritalika Teej’ as it was on this very day in the ‘Satya Yug’ (golden epoch of truth) that the daughter of the Himalayas, Parvati, was hidden by her maids because of her refusal to marry Lord Vishnu. The women on the day of ‘Teej’ are seen engrossed in jubilant dancing and singing in a care-free mood. Women put on bangles, ‘Pote’ (a necklace made of glass beads), ‘Tilahari’ and ‘Sindur’ (crimson powder) considered the symbols of good luck and dress themselves up in red saris or other red outfits and adorn themselves with different kinds of ornaments.

Women in the morning today take ritual baths and offer worship while in the evening they pay homage to Lord Shiva, light lamps and spend the night awake. The next day, the last day of the festival is marked by the women performing religious and traditional rituals such as the use of 108 stems of ‘Datiwan’ (a kind of holy plant) while bathing using mud. They also worship the legendary ‘Saptarishis’ (seven sages) and offer alms, thus completing the fast. The legend has it that Parbati, the daughter of Himalayas, was on her maiden fast, wishing for the health and the well-being of her spouse, Lord Shiva. Since then the same day has been recognized as the Haritalika Teej.

The Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu and other temples of Lord Shiva in other parts of the country would generally see an overwhelming number of women devotees on this day in the past. However, the Pashupatinath temple remains shut since the outbreak of the deadly Corona Virus. But due to the risk of COVID-19 and prohibitory order, lockdown, shutdown ordered in many places across the country including the Kathmandu Valley with high risks of COVID-19, the celebration is likely to be a low-key and indoor affair this year.