A woman’s fest


Teej is here and women are busy with the tradition of darr khane before the daylong fast for their husband’s long, long life. Teej is not only about feasting and fasting, but about women connecting with each other and joining in the celebrations of their happy lives. Here’s how some of our special ladies mark Teej.

For love of dancing

“I love the music and dancing that takes place on Teej. Something happens to me, I get quite excited and I automatically tend to dance and join in,” shares actor Radha Lamsal. “Previously, when we used to go to Pashupati on Teej, women used to invite my mum to dance. and we just moved from one group to another and entered the temple. We never had to stay in line for hours. It was always

easy to get inside the temple when I went with her,” reminiscences daughter Arunima, who is also actor.

However, she says she didn’t dance much. “Ali haliyo ani side lagyo (Shake a little and stand on the side).”

Theirs is a big family and Teej celebrations start from Janai Purnima. Almost every weekend there is a get-together at one of the family member’s place.

Mum Radha said, “It’s not just about the food, but exchanging churas, potes and dancing, the enthusiasm that is there which is beautiful about Teej.”

About her daughter’s first Teej after marriage, she said, “Along with saree we need to send jewellery as well. I also remember we had to send something for her mother-in-law, but was so confused. So, we let Arunima ask what colour saree she wanted and got accessories that matched.”

And talking of gifts Arunima says, “I am mostly given stuff that I can use for my shoots like ear-rings, bracelets, hair-pieces and I have so much of it, I’ve told everyone not to give me anymore.”

This is a festival that Arunima is really proud of. “I feel like it is a kind of women’s day. The roads are red with women adorned in red, the environment around the Shivaji temples are great and the things a woman can do for her husband can be seen.”

Sisterly connections

“Teej is always at time for fun and enjoyment with my sisters,” said theatre personality Nisha Sharma adding that as they are five sisters, they never felt the need of friends when all are present.

They usually gather at their sainli didi’s (Chandra Mala) place three or four days prior to Teej when time just flies by as they enjoy playing cards, gossiping, doing facials, make-up, putting mehendi and competing with each other as to who has the best designs, photo sessions and getting prepared for the next day.

“We all are a bit shaukin when it comes to wearing good clothes and jewellery, so we have a great time,” said Chandra Mala.

The gifts are a special part of their Teej celebrations as Chandra Mala puts it, “Hak sath mangchan mero bahini haru ta (They demand gifts as if its their right).”

Nisha added, “We ask for gifts and complain if they don’t give us any.” And beaming she added, “This year we’ve already received diamond rings along with a salwar kameez from my sainli didi.”

Darr khane holds huge importance and Chandra Mala has a busy time preparing dishes for her sisters. “I usually start preparing from a day before. It’s mostly kheer that is prepared, and my sisters have their own favourites, and I prepare items according to their list.”

At times they all go to their mother’s place, who concerned about their fasting, gets up as early as 4:00 am and prepares food for them.

On Panchami they visit the Rikeshwore temple. “As all of us go together, it has become a tradition to do the puja from the same bahun. It gets difficult at times to find one whose gotra does not match with that of all five of us. But eventually we do find one,” said Nisha.

Nowadays, both miss their sister Surya Mala, who is living in US. “Teej just hasn’t been the same since she left.”

Passing on the tradition

“It was around two years before I got married that I started celebrating Teej. After marriage, there was a new excitement — darr khane, nanda aaune... I really liked it,” shared former Miss Nepal Usha Khadgi.

Her mother-in-law, Shanti Devi Timilsina who lives in Birgunj shares, “We give them saubhagya, sarees and celebrate the festival together with everyone. I prepare special dishes on that day and it is not only my daughter-in-law, but even my son is really happy to see all

the food being prepared. There really aren’t any differences between the way it is celebrated by my daughter and Usha, we all have fun together.”

To which Usha added, “My mother-in-law is not very strict and doesn’t have really hard and fast rules. She lets us take our fasts depending on our convenience and whether it is possible for us.”

This year as her mother-in-law is in Birgunj, it is with friends that she is celebrating, though she prefers being with her husband, and shares, “As I have learnt

from my elders, we must celebrate it, not only for the fun and enjoyment, but also that the next generation learns from it and to preserve our rich culture.”