Sunday, 15 July 2012

TEEJ FESTIVAL


Teej Festival

The Teej festival is celebrated in Rajasthan in the months of July or August. Like the Gangaur festival, Teej is also dedicated to Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. Teej also celebrates the arrival of the monsoon, and the hopes of a good harvesting season. Teej holds prominence among the Fairs and festivals of Rajasthan and is observed with great fanfare by the women all over Rajasthan, particularly in Jaipur.

Teej has mythological associations, like most Indian festivals. It is said that on the 3rd day after new moon, which is called Teej in the local language, Goddess Parvati went to Lord Shiva to live with him after a penance of hundred years. Thus, this festival celebrates fidelity and marital bliss. Much like Gangaur, married women pray for the success of their married life during Teej. As mentioned above, Teej also has a more practical relevance. The rain God is appeased by songs and various rituals, so that he blesses earth with good amount of rainfall that will ensure a good crop. The wait for rain is all the more eager in Rajasthan as this area receives very little rainfall. This is why women dress in green that symbolizes fertility and good harvest. In addition to the rituals, the festival includes decorating swings with flowers and hung from trees. Women then sing traditional songs praising the Goddess and her husband, while enjoying themselves in the decorated swings. 

Traditionally, three types of Teej are celebrated. These are – Hariyali Teej, Kajari Teej, and Hartalika Teej. These three parts of the festival are separated by a few days in the months of august and September. Separate rituals mark these three, but they involve nature worship in various forms like worshipping the moon and neem tree and observing day long fast for the long life of husbands. 
It is customary for the married women to return to their paternal house during Teej. The in-laws present the woman with gifts that include henna, bangles, a traditional dress and a sweet dish. This ritual is also followed by the future in-laws of an unmarried woman. The women decorate their hands and feet with henna, which is considered very auspicious. The other important rituals of Teej include fasting without water, worshipping trees, and offering prayers to Teej Mata, a name given to goddess Parvati, whose idol is adorned specially for the occasion. 

Jaipur is particularly famous for Teej celebrations. Grand processions are brought out on the streets. The center of the processions is the idol of the Goddess and comprises a magnificent retinue of Golden palanquins, decorated elephants, horses, and people. Traditional songs and music accompany the procession. The chariots, bullock carts and the palanquin bearers dressed in red give the scene a royal flavor. A large number of tourists gather during this period in the city, including foreign tourists. 

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