Teejko Bela Sabai Janchhan Maaita—the song is evergreen and so is this women’s festival of gathering and socialising. Women dance to the nostalgic songs related of Teej, the time for all married and unmarried females to observe a day’s fasting and ending it with a puja on the fifth day of new moon.
According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Parvati meditated for years and took 108 births to finally be accepted by Lord Shiva. When her love and devotion won Lord Shiva’s heart, Goddess Parvati announced that the day would be celebrated as Teej. The festival is celebrated for three days that includes Dar khaney din—a day where you eat a lot so that you can fast the following day, the actual day of fasting and rishi paanchami.
On the first day, women gather with relatives and dance till midnight, singing songs of commitment while eating and celebrating. Starting at midnight, they start their fast with the same enthusiasm. Some of them are so strict with fasting that they don’t even sip a drop of water all day. In Nepali, it is called Nirjala Barta. There is a belief that if you pray to Goddess Parvati with great sincerity then you’ll be blessed with a happy family and the man of your dreams. They finish prayers on the last day by worshipping the seven saints by offering them food, money, and other submissions.
In Adelaide, women and girls gathered on Saturday, 29th July, in Goodwood Community Center. It was a good mix of all age groups including the male members who supported by organising and transporting to the venue. It was an evening program, so many could come after work. Adelaide Nepal and EPlanet of Adelaide organised the program.
Women from all walks of life clad in red saris entertained the gathering with series of folk songs and group dances. The participation of mothers and sisters was stupendous and unprecedented. For the whole day the atmosphere of Goodwood Community Center was charged with excitement and merrymaking.
The program entertained the community members by performing series of competitions and solo songs. Performers like Devi Charti, Khuman Adhikari, Ramila Neupane and Brasha Raut entertained the crowd.
Back in Nepal, Teej is a very special social celebration. Sisters married off to people in far flung villages try coming to the parental homes or homes of brothers, traditionally. Because of continuing monsoon, many could not make their way across swollen rivers. So most celebration is limited to private homes with few people gathering.
Religious-cultural programs like Teej definitely provide not only ample gratification to current ethnic Nepali population but also help pass the cultural torch down to successive generations. Organisations like Adelaide Nepal and EPlanet are doing a pretty good job in keeping the candle of Nepali culture burning.