Haritalika Teej, the greatest and holiest festival of Nepali Hindu women, is being observed with religious fervour tomorrow.

Pashupatinath temple, which used to host over 500,000 women devotees during normal times, will not remain open during this year's Teej due to the persistent risk of COVID-19.

Director of Pashupati Area Development Trust Ghanashyam Khatiwada said, "The risk of COVID-19 still exists. Therefore, we have decided to not open the temple during Teej. Allowing devotees to enter inside the temple will only result in jostling crowds of people and aggravate the situation as physical distancing is next to impossible," adding that they would reopen the holy shrine in the near future after analysing the situation of the pandemic," he informed.

The temple has remained closed since the emergence of the second wave of coronavirus.

Hindu women celebrate Teej by fasting, singing, dancing and offering prayers to Lord Shiva.

Teej festival marks a three-day long celebration.

The first day is called dar khane din.

On this day, women visit their parents, kin and friends and eat various delicacies.

The second day is the fasting day. This day marks the main day of Teej.

The final day of the festival is Rishi Panchami when women break their fast after performing the Sapta Rishi puja.

Meanwhile, the local administration has called upon the people to celebrate the festival at home and avoid crowds in public places and shrines, citing the risk posed by the COV- ID-19 pandemic.

A version of this article appears in the print on September 9 2021, of The Himalayan Times.