Hartalika Teej – A Woman Special Fasting Festival
Hartalika Teej is a Hindu fasting observed by Hindu women. It is dedicated to Goddess Parvati. Hartalika Teej falls on the third day of the first fortnight of the month of ‘Bhadra’. The festival continues three days and is celebrated by women in honor of Parvati Ma. It is one of three Teej festivals and most popularly celebrated in the Northern and western parts of India. The festival of Hartalika Teez is mainly carried on in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Rajasthan and is some parts of Maharashtra.
According to Hindu mythology Parvati was in love with Shiva. Being an ascetic Lord shiva was not aware of her. Parvati performed penance on the Himalayas for many years and finally Shiva took notice of her. Then Lord shiva came to know about her love and devotion towards him and agreed to marry her. Since then Parvati has been worshipped as Haritalika.
Unmarried girls keep the fast and pray to Goddesses Parvati in hope to get good husbands. Hartalika Teej Vrat is observed by both married and unmarried women. Married women keep the Vrat in order to achieve happy and peaceful married life. Married ladies come back to their parent’s home to celebrate the festival. Some even maintain nirjala vrata (without water) on these three days and refrain from sleep all the three days. This is symbolic of the penance which Goddesses Parvati undertook to get Shiva as her husband. During the Vrat food is being offered to Brahmins and young girls.
Hartalika Teej is also the time to adorn oneself with new clothes and jewelry. In Maharashtra women wear green clothes, green bangles, golden bindis and kajal for luck. Applying mehndi on hands and feet is one of the unique features of Hartalike Teej celebrations. They offer fresh fruits and green vegetables to the goddesses and beautifully painted coconut to their female relatives. After the rituals get over women take a feast of rice patolis and jaggery steamed in banana leaves, mixed vegetables cooked with spices and coconut milk, a sweet made from coconut milk and rice. Tender coconut water is taken as a treat of the day.
There are several regional variations of this Hartalike Teej Vrat but the purpose of observing it remains the same. Two other Teej Vrats are Hariyali Teej and Kajari Teej but Hartalike Teej is the most important. For performing the puja women gather at a nearby temple or a garden. A semi-circle is created and an idol of Goddess Parvati is kept in the middle. The main puja begins with holy offerings of flowers, fruits, sweets and coins. A pujarin or all the ladies together narrate the holy Teej Katha. Young girls also sit and listen to the katha. While listening to the holy katha women should put their mind and thoughts towards their soul mate. After the puja gets over women offer flowers, fruits and many other holy items to Goddesses Parvati and seek her blessings for marital bliss. Another important part of the puja is oil lamp that needs to keep alight throughout the night and if it dies away it is considered to be a bad omen. At some places after paying homage to Goddess Parvati, women take a bath with red mud found on the roots of sacred Datiwan bush. This is a act of purification that is believed to absolve women for all accumulated sins after this holy bath.