KATHMANDU, Sept 14: Teej has always been a special festival for Nepali Hindu women. They pray for the wellbeing of their husbands, fast to appeal to the gods and also have fun in the process. Apart from the fasting, there are singing, dancing, exchanging bits of harmless gossips and dolling up in special looks for the special day.
Republica sat down to chat with four young people to understand what Teej means to the youth. Shweta Karki, 18, is a student of Bachelor’s in English Literature and Social Work at St Xavier’s College. Labisha Uprety, 19, is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Development Studies at Nation College; and Preeti Karna, 21, is in her 3rd year of Biomedical Engineering at College of Biomedical Engineering and Applied Sciences.
The only boy in the group, Suvasies Parajuli, 17, a class 11 student of Golden Gate International College, also shares his thoughts on the festival for women.
What does the festival of Teej represent for you?
Suvasies: I think the festival is more about culture than religion. And because it’s important culturally, we should preserve it. Certainly, there are both positive and negative aspects to the festival but we should focus on the positive things. When I was younger, I would see groups of women singing, and their happiness and enjoyment were good to watch. Nowadays, it’s just become so modernized.
Preeti: Teej is a big cause for celebration in my house. I’ve always been seeing my mother and grandmother very excited about it. I think young people should understand the story behind Teej if they are to hold any meaning for the festival. Teej is about how Goddess Parvati fasted at a young age in order to marry Lord Shiva, and through ages women have been getting into the spirit of Teej to pray for the good health of their husbands.
Shweta: We do celebrate Teej, but in our family we do it in our own way. I have fun but I don’t have to stick to traditional methods of doing so.
Do you fast on the day?
Shweta: Like I said, we do it in our own ways. We don’t believe in going hungry and compromising with our health. So we, apart from non-vegetarian foods, we think it’s okay to eat everything else. We have fruits, curd, fried potatoes, everything but non-veg items. For us, it’s more like a day where we fast to stay healthy.
Labisha: No, I don’t. I don’t believe in fasting. And though my mother fasts, thankfully, she has never pressurized me to join her.
Preeti: I started fasting when I was in class 8. However, it wasn’t due to any parental pressure. My mother did ask me if I would want to fast, but I started because of my own interest. I do the Nirjala fasting which is where we don’t even drink water or eat fruits. I don’t find it a difficult thing to do. In fact, every year I take the Sawanko barta too. If I found it hard or thought that it affected my health, then I would stop immediately.
From L to R: Shweta Karki, Labisha Upreti, Suvasies Parajuli and Preeti Karna
Suvasies, what’s your thought on women fasting on Teej?
Suvasies: I’ve always liked Teej. But fasting is one of the negative aspects of Teej for me. I remember how my mother would fast and it would make her weak. The aftereffects of fasting on that one day would last for quite sometime. I would ask her not to fast but she continued anyway. However, she has stopped fasting and I think that’s better. I don’t think a fast is very effective when you’re praying for something. It just affects your health.
Do you think the glamour factor is especially gaining prominence in Teej?
Preeti: As time passes, things are going to get modernized. Women will want to look their best. It’s a fact. But having said that, I don’t think there’ll come a time when red saris will be replaced by red skirts.
Shweta: Teej has certainly become a lot more about glamour and subtle competition with others. From saris, to the brands of the shoes and bangles, women have become much more conscious now.
What do you enjoy about the festival?
Labisha: I enjoy how women get together and have fun on that day. The gossiping is funny and one can always have fun listening to the endless talks. It’s like it’s the one day when women can talk about their in-laws and other things without being mistaken for malice by others.
Preeti: I like how my mother enjoys the day. Of course, dancing and singing add to the fun elements of the festival. The sweets look delicious and you always get teased by your brothers. Everyone gets into the festive mood, even my father, uncles and brothers.