During the lush months of monsoon, a three-part festival of Teej is celebrated and observed by women in India. The first is the Hariyali Teej, honouring the greenery, observed on the Shukla Paksha of Shravan, the second is the Kajari Teej, honouring the black monsoon clouds, observed on the Krishna Paksh Tritiya, and the third is Hartalika Teej, honouring relationships, observed on the third day of the first fortnight of Bhadra. Out of these, Hartalika Teej is the most prominent one and celebrated widely.
According to legends, after several births and tapasya, Goddess Parvati was finally reunited with Lord Shiva on this day. Since that day, this three-day festival is regarded as highly auspicious for marital bliss and is symbolic of the love and devotion that couples have towards each other.
This festival is deeply rooted in Indian religious and cultural traditions and defines the true nature of the relationship between married couples. Taking advantage of the beautiful monsoon season, which comes as a much-needed respite from the Indian summers, this festival also honours nature and the seasonal shift expressing joy and abundance.
On this day, women observe a nirjal vrat – fasting without food and water, for a for long and healthy life of their husbands. This all-day fast is broken only the next day. During the day women spend time chanting and performing various pooja.
As much as this festival focuses on devotion towards husbands, this also highlights the importance of self-care. Women apply henna or alta on hands and feet and dress up with fine clothes and jewellery. After the ritual bath, the idols of Goddess Parvati are decorated in fresh livery and adorned with flowers. An oil lamp is lit that should remain burning for the entirety of the fasting. Prayers are offered to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva for a long and blissful marital life.
The pooja begins with a gathering of women forming a semi-circle and placing the idol of Goddess Parvati in the middle. Offerings of flowers, sweets and coins are made and Teej Katha is narrated. After this, aarti is conducted and oil lamps are lit. At the end of the day, dancing and singing to traditional songs in praise of the Divine Couple are also performed.
The festival comes to an end the next day with the breaking of the fast by taking a sip of water and fruit offerings placed at the altar the earlier day as prasad.