Women activists add colour to Teej

Kathmandu, September 2:

Both married and unmarried women flocked to Pashupatinath Temple today to mark the Teej festival. But unlike in the previous years, rights organisations used the occasion to launch an awareness drive on violence against women.

While thousands of women went to Pashupatinath to worship Lord Shiva, half a dozen of organisations tapped the opportunity to organise various programmes on the temple premises to drive home their point.

Constituent Assembly member Sapana Malla- Pradhan spoke about women’s rights.

Sangeet Shila Pratisthan organised a folk song competition. The songs were focused on women’s issues and intended to provide information on women empowerment.

Shakti Milan Samaj (SMS) and Nawa Tara Kishori Samaj, with the support of Save the Children, Norway, conducted a street drama on HIV/AIDS on the temple premises.

The organisations conveyed the message on the ways to control HIV/AIDS and the right to live with dignity if infected with the disease.

Samaj’s president Goma Rai said it was the perfect occasion to disseminate information on women-related issues as many women visit the temple on this auspicious day.

“Women are highly vulnerable to the HIV and prevalence of the disease is on the rise over the past few years. So we organised the street play. We thought that it was a good idea to entertain the devotees and also inform them at the same time,” she said.

One of the devotees visiting the temple, Anis Dhakal of Tahachal, said informing women about the burning issues through organising entertainment-related programme was praiseworthy and effective. “They need recreational activities to satiate the thirst and hunger. Almost all women fast on this day. Dissemination of messages through singing

and dancing is a very suitable method,” she added.

On this day, married women observe the festival by fasting throughout the day to honour Lord Shiva so as to get his blessing for the longevity and health of their husbands.

On the other hand, unmarried girls keep fast in the hope to get good husbands.

Thousands of women, dressed in red, visited the temple from as early as 2 am in the morning.

Many women fainted while standing in the queue. Help was at hand thanks to the volunteers.

Even foreigners were found enjoying the festival and dancing on the temple premises with equal vigour and enthusiasm.