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 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.
Posted By Morgan St. Clair
Posted Aug 23rd, 2009