Morgan St. Clair

Morgan’s first experience with international work came in 2003, when she travelled around the world with Semester at Sea studying intercultural relations. She received her Bachelors degree from Assumption College in Worcester, Mass, and worked as an intern in the probation department in the Worcester Trial Court. Morgan then worked on human resources at a Biotech company. At the time of her fellowship, Morgan was pursuing her Master’s in Social Justice in Intercultural Relations with a concentration in community development at the SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, Vermont.

dancing in the streets of Gaighat

23 Aug
More dancing in the streetsI just arrived back into the comfort of my home in Gaighat after spending a few days in Kathmandu visiting with friends and enjoying a little bit of the western way of life in the fast paced city. The first taste of my host mother’s Dahl Baht with a vegetable I have never had before, Capsicum was a bit of a homecoming.  The food tasted so much heartier than the restaurant versions of spaghetti or eastern style pizza.  It is time to settle in quickly back to life in Gaighat as I only have a short period left here at NESPEC and much work to be done.

My return was well planned and much anticipated because of the festival of women this past weekend called Teej.  This morning I got a knock on my door saying to look outside where there were a crowd of women dressed in red saris, gold jewelry looking absolutely stunning.  They were signing and dancing down the street lighting up the road in bright red and gold.  My first glimpse of women celebrating left me speechless.  I suddenly wanted to jump in and be part of the fun but then realized I did not have the appropriate dress and also it was a festival for married women.  Come to find out all women celebrate once they hit puberty. 

Teej is a three-day festival involving rigid fasting as well as huge feasts.  It is a celebration of women going back to the tradition of the wife of Lord Shiva.  Before she was married, Goddness Parbati fasted and prayed for Lord Shiva to become her husband.  Lord Shiva married her, resulting in Goddness Parbati announcing all women should follow the strict rituals she followed.  All married women take part in this ritual to pray for Lord Shiva and a long healthy life of their husband along with unmarried women whom pray for a good husband.

After spending most of the morning in the office making plans for the next month Ajaya-ji decided it was time to go to experience Teej.  And what an afternoon it was.  There were women everywhere in the streets of Gaighat holding hands, laughing and enjoying the unity.  The energy was filled with such excitement and was the pure definition of sisterhood.

Women in front of my house celbrating Teej

Women generally do not do any work inside or outside of the house while celebrating Teej. Tradition holds that when breaking the fast the husbands give the first bite of food and even women drink the foot water that is used by the man. I didn’t see any of this and don’t think the women that I was with would partake in these rituals.

I was asked if we have anything like Teej  in the United States and all I could think of was Mother’s Day.  If only mother’s day could be turned into a dancing, signing celebration that interrupted street traffic which let women let loose in their most honored clothes.  I stood thinking about the close sisterhood in Nepal and how we desperately need more of it in the western world.    

I was pulled into the crowds to start dancing by fellow NESPEC workers.  It was a whirlwind of trying to follow all the movements.  Once I got one sequence down another woman would pull me aside to start another.  I don’t think they have seen someone so confused and overjoyed at the same time dancing.  A large circle formed around me and suddenly I had to show them my moves.  No doubt Gaighat was talking about the foreigner in town that night who was trying so hard to dance like a Nepali. 

 Gaighat in Teej Celebrationnext time I must wear a red sari

Posted By Morgan St. Clair

Posted Aug 23rd, 2009

1 Comment

  • Carolyn

    August 24, 2009


    fantastic Morgan!! sounds like an amazing experience! I second the idea of turning mother’s day into a dancing, traffic stopping event.

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