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India is known to be a land of vast diversities, interesting cultures and different traditions. Some of these festivals and traditions have lasted for generations and continue to exist even during present times.
Hartalika Teej is one such festival that is widely celebrated, especially in the Northern states of India. This teej festival is an all-women celebration where married and unmarried women seek the blessings of Goddess Parvati.
It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Bhadrapada on the Tritiya or 3rd day of the Shukla paksha (waning phase of the moon). Hartalika Teej is one of the three teej festivals celebrated during this period, the other two being Hariyali Teej and Kajari Teej.
The teej festival is celebrated every year in the month of July-August. Married and unmarried women celebrate this festival by praying and observing teej vrat or fasting. Hartalika Teej is similar to another popular traditional festival – Karva Chauth.
Why is Teej celebrated?
Like other Indian festivals, this festival too has an interesting story behind it. So, let us understand the story of teej or as they often call it – “Teej Vrat Ki Katha”. The word Hartalika comes from ‘Harat’, which means abduction and ‘Aalika’ which means female friend.
According to a spiritual legend, Goddess Parvati performed severe austerity along the banks of the river Ganga. She did this in order to have Lord Shiva as her husband. However, being an ascetic, Lord Shiva did not know about her.
Her father, Himalaya, was concerned on seeing her in this condition. So, at the suggestion of Maharishi Narad, he promised her hand in marriage to Lord Vishnu. Goddess Parvati told her friend about this who then decided to abduct her in order to save her from this marriage.
Goddess Parvati was taken to a thick forest where she performed penance and immersed herself in the adoration of Lord Shiva for many years. Finally, Lord Shiva took notice of her devotion. He appeared before her in his divine form and agreed to marry her.
From that moment onwards, Goddess Parvati has been worshipped as Hartalika and Hartalika Teej is observed in memory of her devotion and penance.
When will Hartalika Teej be celebrated this year?
The Hartalika Teej festival falls on Friday, 21st August, 2020.
How is Hartalika Teej festival celebrated?
On the occasion of Teej Vrat, married and unmarried women observe fast for a peaceful married life and for a loving husband respectively. Some women even observe Nirjala Vrata (fasting without water).
While women celebrate Haryali Teej and Kajari Teej by visiting their parent’s house, they come back to their in-laws for Hartalika Teej celebration.
Women wake up early in the morning on the day of Hartalika Teej. They wear new clothes, adorn the best jewellery and receive various gifts from their parents and in-laws.
These gifts, also known as Shrinjhara or Sindhare, include bangles, sindoor, traditional laheria dress, henna and even various sweets like ghewar.
Women gather at a nearby temple or garden for puja. They form a semi-circle while an idol of Goddess Parvati is placed in the middle. The Hartalika Puja begins with holy offerings of flowers, sweets and fruits while all the ladies narrate the holy Teej Katha together.
Once the Hartalika Puja is over, women offer various holy items to Goddess Parvati and pray for her blessings. Also, women have to light a mud diya that should be kept lit all night long. During the Teej Vrat, food is offered to young girls and brahmins as well.
Apart from the northern states of India such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand, the significance of Teej is understood and followed in Maharashtra as well as the southern parts of India.
Hartalika Teej festival is celebrated as Gowri Habba in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. On the other hand, in Maharashtra, women conduct Hartalika Puja and observe Teej Vrat as well. They wear green clothes, golden bindis and green bangles too.
Just like all other festivals, the teej festival brings people together and spreads the message of love. It is one of the most awaited festivals while the significance of Teej is understood and followed by women all across India.
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