Though the Teej festival is celebrated in several parts of North India, but in Jaipur it is celebrated with extra verve. The entire “pink city” comes together with a vibrant and spectacular display of women, men, and animals for the entire day.
On the Teej day, the city of Jaipur arranges a huge procession, groups of musicians playing local music, men and women perform Rajasthan flock dances; bedecked horses, elephants, and bullocks carry the idols of Teej Mata. Photo from Flickr
Every year Teej is celebrated to mark the arrival of monsoon on the month of either July or August. Last year I was in Jaipur and witnessed the Teej celebration with faith and festivity, done so mostly by women. I stayed at one of my friend’s house to see the celebration of Teej. The entire house was decorated with colorful cloths and flowers. There was a huge swing rocking gently in front of their house. My friend told me that that is where all the young and married girls from the entire neighborhood come to celebrate the festival.
The day begins with married women praying for their husband’s well-being by praying to Goddess Parvathi and the rest of the day is celebrated with everyone dressing in their finest garments, singing, dancing, and exchanging gifts with each other. My friend’s family prepared various North Indian sweets several days prior and delightfully offered them to me. Throughout the day both men and women visited my friend’s house with kind words and rich sweets. The women mostly played, sang, and twirled around the swing in the front of the house. All the women dressed in vibrant hues with several large ornaments, milky pearls, and other colorful stones that clung to their dresses. There was also a mehndi ceremony participated by all the women around the neighborhood, where they tattoo lavishly intricate designs onto their hands. Though this part is mainly celebrated by women, I saw both men and women celebrating with great joy and enthusiasm.
I had previously read the mythical reason for the Teej celebration before arriving. Goddess Parvathi has to fast for 108 years to reunite with her husband, Lord Shiva. To celebrate the reunion, married women celebrate the day to garner love and affection from their husbands. In the dying hours of the night, when things settled down, I was chatting with my friend and asked,”Do you think in the 21st century it’s the right kind of celebration for women to do? Why do women have to get their husbands’ love? The love has to be mutual, right?”.
My friend immediately answered, “You are right about the origin of Teej festival, in the past the women celebrated Teej to show their love and affection to their husbands. But nowadays it is mostly celebrated to say goodbye to the searing summer and welcome the cool monsoon. In fact, the present generation celebrates Teej merely to celebrate and appreciate our cultural heritage, and no one feels it’s a women-only festival.”
The next day, I thanked my friend and his family for making me part of their family celebrations and left Jaipur. It is always endlessly fascinating to see the culture, tradition, and the festivals celebrated all over India. I am even sure that there are several people living in South India who are not aware about the culture and traditions of the Teej festival. I am happy that I am not one of them.
On the Teej day, the city of Jaipur arranges a huge procession starting from the City Palace. Groups of musicians playing local music, men and women perform Rajasthan flock dances; bedecked horses, elephants, and bullocks carry the idols of Teej Mata (Goddess Parvathi). The procession ends at Chaugan. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see the procession but if you plan in advance, the state tourism board arranges a five-day cultural festival during the celebration.