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Teej is a very popular festival, celebrated by women folk, mainly in Northern India. There are many Teej festivals such as Hariyali Teej, Aksha Teej, and Kajari Teej etc. However, Haritalika Teej is a festival of three days during which women worship Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati for blissful marital life.
‘Teej’ is originally derived from the name of an insect called Teej that comes out in the rains. Haritalika Teej is the most significant and biggest of all Teej festivals. Women observe fast to pray for long life of their husbands and well-being of their children. This festival celebrates the union of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati.
Haritalika Teej falls on Shukla Paksha Tritya (third day of dark phase) of Bhadrapada month.
According to Hindu mythology, it is believed that Goddess Parvati was in love with Lord Shiva. He was lost in austerities and never noticed her love for him. So, she performed penance on the Himalayas for hundred years to win his love. Finally, he realised her immense devotion and true love for him and married her. Since then Maa Parvati is also called Haritalika, and this festival of Teej Vrata is said to bestow the blessings of the Goddess upon girls.
Rituals & Celebrations
Haritalika Teej involves a ritual of observing very rigid Vrat or fast by girls. The fast is kept by both married women and unmarried girls (usually of marriageable age) to seek the blessings of gods for the well-being and longevity of their husbands and future husbands respectively.
Teej Vrata is a very rigid fast though. Women keep Nirjala Vrata that means fasting without water (of course without food too) and keep awake for all three nights of Hritalika Teej. The difficult fast symbolizes the tough penance Maa Parvati had observed for Lord Shiva. During their fast, girls offer food to Brahmins and fresh fruits and vegetables to Goddess Parvarti.
In different parts of India, there are different traditions associated with the festival. However, it is a common ritual for girls to play swing at homes and to distribute beautifully painted coconuts among female friends and relatives. In Maharashtra, on this festival, girls wear green-hued clothes, bangles and Bindis and kohl in eyes. After reading Haritalika Katha and offering prayers in the evening, activities such as dance performances and singing add to the merriment and joy of Teej Celebration. The fast is ended by having jaggery and rice patolis (steamed stuffed pancakes) and some sweets made with coconut, rice and milk.
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