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Teej Festival

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Teej1 Festivals are the very essence of life for the people of Rajasthan. Every season is marked with a series of fairs and festivals except the summer months when the blazing sun scorches the earth. With the arrival of the monsoons the festival season is unleashed. And the most important festival to herald the monsoons is the Teej – reflecting the magic of the rainy season.

The arrival of monsoons is a time for celebration. The parched land, scorched by the blazing summer sun, gets bathed in the first showers. The depressing landscape, a morbid brown is spontaneously transformed. An intoxicating fragrance of rain soaked sand fills the atmosphere clearing the cloud of dust that veils the sky in the preceding months. The brown is overtaken by a vibrant green. A cool breeze revives the spirit of the people of the desert state of Rajasthan.

Peacocks dance in ecstasy, women rejoice by putting up rope swings in the garden and lilting melodies can be heard heralding the festival of Teej celebrated on the third day of the waxing moon in the month of Sawan (July –August). The festival of Teej reflects the magic of the monsoon. It is the beginning of a series of fairs and festivals, which are celebrated throughout the autumn and winter months culminating in the spring festival of Gangaur. According to a local saying Teej is the key to open the lock of festivals locked away for the summer by the spring festival of the erstwhile Jaipur royal state. The old tradition still continues. While Gangaur is celebrated in different ways in each region, the celebration of Teej remains exclusive to the Jaipur region.

Teej3Teej is essentially a women’s festival. On this day goddess Parvati was united with Lord Shiva after a penance of a hundred years – making them a symbol of an ideal marriage. Invocation of Parvati’s blessings on this day results in continued marital bliss. Women dress up in all their finery to worship the goddess. Girls engaged to be married receive gifts from their future in-laws a day before the festival. The gift called shrinjhara derived from the word Shringar (adornment) consists of henna, lac bangles, a special dress of laharia (tie and dye fabric) and a sweet called ghewar.

Laharia and ghewar are traditionally associated with Teej. Days before the festival main markets in the walled city of Jaipur wear a festive look where the textile shops stock a wide range of laharia. For the women of the noble families a special variety of laharia in pastel shade of blue called samandar (sea) has been created. Sweetshops do brisk business in ghewars. Rich families living outside Rajasthan order their ghewar to be flown out from Jaipur.

Young women can be seen getting the palms of their hands decorated with henna- special motifs to match the mood of Teej are applied – for these also the most popular are known as ghewar and laharia. Lilting songs – specific to the festival are sung to accompany the application of henna creating an aura of romance. The colour of the henna symbolises the intensity of the beloved’s love for the woman.

During the time of the princely rule the royal image of Parvati referred to as Teej Mata, was taken out for two days in a ceremonial procession. Now after the merger of the state, the image is still taken out in procession organised by the Sawai Man Singh II Museum Trust and the Rajasthan Tourism.Teej2

A few days before the festival the image is repainted and on the day of Teej is bedecked in a new dress and traditional jewellery and worshipped in the Zenana (the ladies’ chamber in the City Palace) by the woman of the royal family. After the ritual is over, the image is brought out into the courtyard to join the procession. Thousands of spectators wait anxiously to catch a glimpse of the goddess. The strength of the crowd depends on the strength of the monsoon crowd of colourfully dressed villagers gathers on the terrances on both sides of the road.

A young village girl dreams of being in Jaipur for Teej and a man who wants to win her heart must make her dream come true. Hundreds of couples come to the city, singing and dancing, on bullock carts, camel carts, and open tractor-trailers. They ramble through the city buying knick-knacks and savouring the food. By the afternoon the crowds begin to gather on the terraces in a bid to get a vantage viewpoint.

At the auspicious moment decided by the priest, the procession is led out by the Nishan-ka- hathi (the elephant with the flag). The magnificent procession of caparisoned elephants, bullock carts, and chariots comes out of the Tripolia Gate. And then the much-awaited image of Teej Mata appears, mounted on the traditional palanquin- Takht-e-rawan. The crowd surges to catch a glimpse of the deity and a shiver of excitement pass through he audience. As the procession moves out of vision, people start dispersing, returning to their villages waiting for another festival.

Rajasthan has a festival for every season but Teej holds a special place as a time for rejuvenation and revival of spirits. Teej is made an even more memorable experience if it rains on this day. People pray for a cool shower at the time of the procession – for a Teej without rain is like a Christmas without snow.