Kathmandu, Nepal, September 03 — In Nepal, women celebrated the Teej festival, Tuesday, with sumptuous feasts, rigid fasts and prayers. Also known as the festival of fasting for women, women on this day fast for marital bliss and purification of body and soul. Prayers are also offered for the well being of their spouse and children.
The origins of the festival can be traced to a popular story in Hindu mythology where Goddess Parvati fasted and prayed to please Lord Shiva into matrimony. Touched by her devotion and dedication, he accepted her as his wife. Goddess Parvati in true obeisance and gratitude is said to have sent her emissary to preach the values of prayer and fasting to women. Indulging in such rituals promises a long life and prosperity according to the Hindu Holy Scriptures.
This three-day festival begins with an assembly of women both single and married who deck up in their finest attires and dance and sing devotional songs. A feast follows after which a 24-hour fast is observed. Some women take the fast rather seriously and go without food and water for the entire duration of the fast.
Women seen dancing and singing on the streets of Nepal is a common sight, which generally ends at one the many Shiva temples found in the region. In Kathmandu, the Pashupatinath temple is the hub of Teej activities where women make offering to Lord Shiva in order to seek blessings in matrimonial relationships and welfare of their families.
The third day of the festival is called "Rishi Panchami" where women pay homage to various deities and bathe with red mud found on the roots of the sacred Datiwan bush. This is the final act of purification after which women are considered pure and absolved from sins.
I am deeply happy and being raised with a strong sense of faith and spirituality, this festival holds a special significance for me. It also brings fond memories of the times when my sisters and me used to sing and dance and sometimes flee to the nearby Shiva temple ignoring our guardians. Such is the dynamism of the festival even for young girls and children.
Today, Teej has turned my faith into love. I can see love in the leaves, in the sky and in the ocean and in everything that surrounds me. It is as infinite as my imagination and makes me feel special and romantic just like the Goddesses in ancient Hindu mythologies.
Love is the supreme truth and above everything I can imagine. To love and feel loved is the cornerstone of Teej. While for many who have suffered, this seems distant but they still hold on to the message of faith and hope that the festival projects.
Sadly, recent times have seen many alterations in the Teej rituals and practices. However, its essence and flavor still lingers. I have worn my Mother’s sari today. I feel like dancing today.
This article was originally published by United Press
International,Asia. Journalist and Story Writer Kamala Sarup
associates and writes for
www.mediaforfreedom.com. She is a regular contributor to United Press
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and writing on peace, anti-war, women, terrorism, democracy, and
development. Some of her publications are: Women's Empowerment in
South Asia, Nepal (booklets); Prevention of Trafficking in Women
Through Media, (book); Efforts to Prevent Trafficking in for Media
Activism (media research). http://www.mediaforfreedom.com