First of all I am sorry that this blog is coming in late but I guess you can forgive me as I was recovering from a 48-hour long fast. However, here I am and as promised I am going to share with you how I celebrated Teej in Singapore. This was my second year and for the first time I was all by myself. (Of course, I had my husband and a couple friend who supported me through it but I did miss my family.)
11 September : Naha Kha
The last update that you guys have of my Teej celebrations is that I had applied henna and was all set to celebrate Naha Kha (which I explained in this blog). So, on 11th September, I got up at 5 am in the morning, cleaned the temple area, prepared a sweet dish (sewai) for myself, took a shower (including head wash), got ready (it is a tradition to wear new clothes) and offered prayers, and then ate. I, unfortunately, had a meeting that day and had to go out between 9 am and 1 pm. By the time I came home, I was starving! I ate mashed chapati with milk and sugar. (we are not supposed to have salt, onion, garlic etc on Naha Kha).
In the afternoon, I took some rest and diverted myself from feeling hungry/dizzy. I kept myself hydrated with water, organic drinks and avoided tea/coffee as much as possible. In the evening, it was time for pooja again. I took a quick shower and got ready for saanjh (evening offerings).
Preparations for Teej
Now, it was time for phase II. Preparing for the next day – the main festival of Teej. First of all I cleaned the space where I had decided to set my temporary worshiping area. I placed a fresh new mat as base and decorated the entire space with flowers, colorful clothes and devotional items. After setting this up, I began the process of preparing prasad (sweet offerings).
I did not want to leave any heavy work for the next day, so I decided to do the cooking in the night. Traditionally in Bihar, women prepare Pidukiya (also known as Gujiya) and Khajoor (also known as Thekua). Now, preparing these delectable dishes that basically represent my childhood memories of my mother celebrating Teej was a challenge. I could not afford to mess it up. I had already noted down my Grand Ma’s recipe and my Mom was on video call half the time, guiding me. And , I did it!
12th September : Sargi
Finally, came the auspicious day of Haritalika Teej on 12th September. I woke up at 4 am to start the rituals. The very first thing is sargi. It is actually the tradition of waking up before sunrise to have a sweet and glass of water. Then-after, women take a shower and get ready in a special manner.
We wear colorful sarees and adorn complete jewelry sets, including mangalsutra, payal, bichua, lehthi and kaanch bangles, nath etc. Another special thing about Teej is that women do not apply regular sindoor but the one from sinhaura (a wooden container of vermilion given to brides by her in-laws on the wedding night – the sindoor in this container is orange in color and is used at the time of marriage during sindoordaan). A red colored dye called alta is also applied on feet while hands are decorated with henna.
Haritalika Vrat Katha and Pooja Ceremony
After getting ready and preparing for the ceremony, I began the pooja at 4 pm according to this year’s shubh muhurat (auspicious period of the day). Things required for Haritalika Vrat Katha are:
- Idols of Lord Shiva and his family (Some people make these idols using sand/soil while some opt for images/moortis)
- Ganaga Jal (Holy Water)
- Daan ki Daliya – A basket with all beauty items of a married woman (suhaag ka saman – bindi, sindoor, choori, aiyna, alta, kanghi, laal kapda etc)
- Coconut (nariyal)
- 5 Betel Leaves (paan ke patte)
- Areca Nut (supari)
- Flowers (especially White flowers for Lord Shiva)
- Chandan, Roli, Kumkum, Janew
- Prasad (Fruits, Sweets, Pidukiya, Khajoor)
- 5 Diyas
- Colorful Clothes
- Dhoop, agarbatti, kapoor, ghanti
- Aam ke pallav (5 leaves from Mango Tree)
- Shiva Chalisa & Aarti, Parvati Chalisa & Aarti
- Haritalika Vrat Katha
After setting up everything, I began the pooja. The ceremony begins by worshiping Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvati, Lord Ganesha and Lord Kartikey. After burning incense sticks (aggarbatti) and diyas, I read out the Chalisa for Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. In addition to regular offerings like chandan, kumkum, jal and flowers, I also offered paan ke patte, aam ke pallav, supari, nariyal and daan ki daliya. This was followed by Shiv-Parvati Ji ki Aarti. Then-after, began the Haritalika Vrat Katha, which is basically the tale of why this festival is celebrated.
The Haritalika Vrat Katha is called so because Goddess Parvati had staged Her abduction (harit) by a friend and gone to a dangerous forest to perform a nirjala vrat (complete fast of food-water). According to the katha (tale), upon the preposition of Narad Muni Ji, Goddess Parvati’s father had arranged Her marriage to Lord Vishnu. However, Goddess Parvati had sworn that She would marry no one but Lord Shiva. To attain this desire and convince Her father, She declared a difficult fast and resigned Herself to a dangerous forest. Eventually, She was wedded to Lord Shiva. Since then, married women celebrate Haritalika Vrat Katha by observing a 48-hour fast, out of which the first day is without salt etc and the second day is a complete nirjala (without even a drop of water). It is believed that by observing this festival, women are blessed with a prosperous and happy married life.
By the time my pooja was over, it was almost 6 in the evening. I was content and happy that I had completed the ceremony successfully. Though, to be honest, I was feeling a little dizzy and tired by now. Let me tell you one thing – the night is the toughest. Traditionally, women are supposed to do a jaagaran for the whole night but it is not mandatory. However, I was up till late.
Paaran : 13th September
Paaran, which is the due process of calling off the fast, is the final stage of Teej. On the next morning, women wake up before sunrise, dismantle the temporary worship area and perform the pooja of Goddess Parvati in the regular house temple. I miraculously survived the night and woke up at 4 am, took a shower and got ready in new (purpose being fresh) clothes and started the ritual. After duly worshiping Goddess Parvati and offering Her kumkum (vermilion), I performed Paaran. I called off my fast by sipping some Ganga Jal (Holy water) along with a Tulsi leaf. Then-after, I had a fruit from the prasad.
One of the highlights for me on teej this year was that my Paaran meal was cooked by my husband. So, I relished on some delicious Pulao, Chhole and my favorite Bhindi prepared by my better half after having a cup of tea, also made by him.
I still cannot believe that I was able to celebrate Teej and follow all due traditions properly in a foreign land. I am thankful to God for blessing me with the courage and strength to do so. I feel closer to home when I celebrate Indian festivals, it makes me feel attached to my foundations.