Hartalika Teej is the Teej festival in Nepal. Teej Nepal comes after the monsoon season. The celebration is from the second day to the fifth day after the new moon of the Bhadra, a month of the Hindu calendar. The second day of the festival is the most important among. And it is commonly known as “Women’s Day”.
Pashupatinath Temple (Burning Temple) in Kathmandu plays a festive-shrine role in this Nepalese festival celebration.
Teej is not only a festival for Hindu women in Nepal, but also for all women of Hindu communities in South Asia.
Hartalika Teej is dedicated to Parvati, the great Hindu goddess Parvati (Goddess of Snow Mountains), commemorating her union with Lord Shiva.
Women who believe in Hinduism in Nepal must fast during “Women’s Day” and pray for their families. Married women fast and pray for their loved ones for longevity, and unmarried women pray to find a good husband.
Teej festival in Nepal is actually the name of a small red bug that burrows out of the soil during the rainy season in Nepal. This is why red is popular during Hartalika. Women always wear beautiful red, green clothes, and put on luxurious gold and silver jewelry. Women are on holiday these days.
During the festive occasion for women, they dance, sing, get together with friends and tell stories. Lively and cheerful Nepalese music is played in the streets and alleys. On this day, women are the first guests of honor, while men share the happy moments with them.
In the age of mythology, Mountain King Himalaya had a beautiful daughter named Parvati. She is the reincarnation of Sati, the wife of Shiva’s previous life. Parvati has been very intelligent since she was a child. She worships Shiva, the god of destruction and reproduction in Hinduism, and was born to love him.
But Shiva was immersed in the pain of losing his beloved wife 10,000 years ago and turned a blind eye to her.
When Mountain King wanted to marry his daughter to a rich God, the depressed Parvati fled at night with the help of her girlfriends. She hid in a forest and began an ascetic life that was greater than Shiva, which lasted for 10,000 years.
When Lord Shiva, who lives on Mount Kailash, heard that a young and beautiful girl was practicing hard to become his wife, he felt shocked. He decided to test her sincerity himself.
Shiva, disguised as a rich Vishnu, came to Parvati in an ornate carriage and tried to lure her to marry him, but Parvati was unmoved.
Then he said a lot of bad things about himself again. The girl blushed and covered her ears.
Finally, touched by her sincerity and determination, Shiva revealed his true self and told Parvati: “From today onwards, I am the slave you bought through asceticism.”
In the end, the two lived happily together and became the main deity worshipped by the Nepalese.
To thank the help of her girlfriends, Parvati invited them to have a party and have some fun. This is the origin of Hartalika Teej.
Today is a happy day. During the day, women go big shopping. Then at night, they prepare a big meal and lots of desserts. The celebration doesn’t really start until midnight. Many women who are usually close to each other gather together. They talk over dinner and have fun, which lasts until dawn.
Today is the most important day, and it is also a public holiday. Women bathe themselves, put on their most beautiful clothes, and wear jewelry. They dress themselves up as newly married brides. Then visit a nearby Shiva temple in groups to make offerings and make their own wishes to Shiva, singing and dancing on the way.
The Pashupatinath Temple on the banks of the holy river Bagmati (one of the sources of the Ganges) is the most important Shiva temple in Nepal.
You can see stone carvings of “lingam” (symbols of male genitalia) of various sizes everywhere here, reflecting the enthusiasm of Hinduism for fertility worship.
The Pashupatinath Temple is the preferred place for women to worship during Women’s Day.
On their way to the temple, women will do their best to look the best.
Walking on the street, you can see women and girls with red sarees everywhere. This has become a unique local landscape, making Kathmandu extra enchanting during Teej.
The second day is the day of fasting. All Hindu females must observe fasting for a day. They cannot eat anything from morning till night, not even drink water.
They believe that their devotion to the gods will be a blessing for the good luck of their husbands and family.
Surprisingly, women do not appear tired after a day of prayer and entertainment while fasting. This is not so much their belief in religion that supports them, but rather their strong hope for better family life in the future.
In the morning light, women will wear red sarees, hold flowers, sweets, grains, coins, and golden marigold garlands in Bodhi leaves. With bright red “tika” on their foreheads, they line up against hunger to enter the temple Pashupatinath. At the temple, women circumambulate the Shiva lingam. The women who finished their prayers would gather in the open field to sing and dance.
In the end, there is a special ceremony: to bathe in the nearby holy river. This symbolic bath will cleanse them of sins.
They then go to worship Ganesha, hoping that their wish made the day before will come true. Women can enjoy a sumptuous meal that day. Many dishes are unique to the festival, such as special bean soup, exotic mutton soup, and desserts made from carrots.