Teej – festival of women that observes grand feast, tough fast & dances in red

“After the vibrant festival, Gai Jatra and the festival of holy thread Janai Purnima, Nepalese are once again in the festive mood to celebrate the biggest festival of Hindu women, Teej.”

The insect that gave name to the festival - Teej
The insect that gave name to the festival – Teej

Teej, the festival that symbolizes “Dancing in Red” can be observed in Shiva Temples across Nepal. Traditionally Teej celebrates the union of Goddess Parvati, with the supreme Hindu God, Shiva. The festival that normally falls during August or September of the Gregorian calendar blends grand feasts, non-stop dances and the tough fasting. 

“The religious myth associated with Teej involves supreme couple of Hindu God and Goddess, “Shiva-Parvati”. Shiva and Parvati has been the most ideal couple among Hindu devotees. According to Hindu myth, Parvati with the quest to have Shiva as her husband went through many hardships and hence was blessed to have Shiva soul mate.”

Dancing in Red, largest festival of Hindu women in Nepal, Teej
Dancing in Red, largest festival of Hindu women in Nepal, Teej

Four-day long celebration, Teej got its name from the small red insect that emerges out of soil after the rainfall during summer. The idea celebrating in red came from the color of the same insect as per the myth.

Tradition of Teej in Nepal

Traditionally, Teej used to be the festival that reunited married women with their maternal families. The festival also observed grievances women had in their husband houses through the lyrical melodies, which women sang and danced. These days the celebration of Teej has transformed a bit as the communities have transformed eliminating discrimination based on gender. However, the roots of celebrating Teej are still the same. Dancing in the traditional lyrical melodies, attired red and worshipping Shiva for the well-being of husband and entire family after the heavy feast has been the basics of celebrating Teej for ages.”

Devotees at Pashupatinath during Teej
Devotees at Pashupatinath during Teej

Day 1 – Dar Khane Din

“The first day of Teej symbolizes the grand feast. “Dar Khane Din” observes the heavy feast on the eve of Teej. Women enjoy midnight feast, which is heavy enough to let them fast the following day for the well-being of their husbands and the entire family. The unmarried women feast and fast for with the hope to be blessed of having ideal husband like Lord Shiva.”

Colorful hands of a devotee on Teej
Colorful hands of a devotee on Teej

Day 2- the day of tough fasting

“Dressed beautifully in red sari, adorned with ornaments that symbolize their married status, Hindu women on this day go through rigid fasting. Some prefer water and fruits but many prefer to fast without a drop of water and fruits. However, the lyrical melodies and dancing in these tunes go on everywhere and the temples of Lord Shiva are the destinations where women throng to observe this day.”

Observing the thrid day of Teej
Observing the thrid day of Teej

Day 3- breaking the fast

“Women wake up early morning sanctify their body and mind and offer prayers to Lord Ganesha and his parents (Shiva- Parvati). Banana and basil leaves (Tulsi) are mandatory during this prayer. After the prayer, they break the fast eating pure cuisines.”

The final day of Teej - bathing with red mud and Datiwan
The final day of Teej – bathing with red mud and Datiwan

Day 4- Rishi Panchami

“The festival ends with the holy red mud bath and revered leaves of Datiwan. The bath signifies that women are forgiven from all the sins they have committed.”


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