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HARTALIKA TEEJ Celebrated with Devotion

Women of sub city, who are culturally lively celebrated Hartalika Teej on 18th September with religious fervour. Women dressed in finery performed puja with their friends in their houses. Teej festival is observed by women of northern states of India such as Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and Maharashtra. This festival falls on the third day of the bright half (shukla paksha) of the lunar month of Bhadrapada, which usually falls in August or September. It commemorates the divine union of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, as per Hindu mythology. Women observe fasts, adorn themselves in traditional finery, and gather to perform various rituals during this auspicious day.

In some regions, women create intricate clay idols of the divine couple and offer prayers, seeking marital bliss and the well-being of their families. Hartalika Teej is a day filled with devotion, music and dance. Women observe a day-long fast without food or water, displaying their dedication to the festival's significance. This fast is undertaken for the well-being and prosperity of their husbands or to find a loving partner. Devotees offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, seeking their blessings for a blissful married life and a harmonious relationship. Women, especially young girls, decorate swings and enjoy singing folk songs, adding a vibrant touch to the festivities. This cultural aspect of Hartalika Teej is a joyful expression of happiness and companionship. According to a spiritual legend, Goddess Parvati performed severe austerity along the banks of the river Ganga. She did this in order to have Lord Shiva as her husband. However, being an ascetic, Lord Shiva did not know about her. Her father, Himalaya, was concerned about seeing her in this condition. So, at the suggestion of Maharishi Narad, he promised her hand in marriage to Lord Vishnu. Goddess Parvati told her friend about this who then decided to abduct her in order to save her from this marriage. Goddess Parvati was taken to a thick forest where she performed penance and immersed herself in the adoration of Lord Shiva for many years. Finally, Lord Shiva took notice of her devotion. He appeared before her in his divine form and agreed to marry her. From that moment onwards, Goddess Parvati has been worshipped as Hartalika and Hartalika Teej is observed in memory of her devotion and penance. On the occasion of Teej Vrat, married and unmarried women observe fast for a peaceful married life and for a loving husband respectively. Some women even observe Nirjala Vrata (fasting without water). While women celebrate Hariyali Teej and Kajari Teej by visiting their parent’s house, they come back to their in-laws for Hartalika Teej celebration. Women wake up early in the morning on the day of Hartalika Teej. They wear new clothes, adorn the best jewellery and receive various gifts from their parents and in-laws. Says Jyotsana Sinha, “On the day of fasting, women renounce water and food for 24 hours and eat only after the muhurat ends next morning, after offering vermilion to Goddess Parvati. During the muhurat time, women offer prayers to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati and perform arti of both deities, and pray for the long lives of their husbands. After performing the evening puja, the women observing fast touch the feet of their husbands and seek blessings. During the puja muhurat, Lord Shiva is offered cow milk, bel batra, dhature ke phool and leaves as a part of the puja ritual. It is believed to be Lord Shiva's favourites. Next morning, women break the fast with something sweet along with poori made in desi ghee.” Smita Deshpande observed Hartalika Vrat and performed puja with her friends. She says, “We are Maharashtrians. We observe fast the whole day and offer corn, cucumber and fruits to Shiva and Parvati made of sand. We then break-fast the next day with curd rice.” Neelima Sinha, DDA Pocket-2, sector-9 was spotted in the market applying henna on hands, “I work at Abhinav Global School, and would like to greet everyone on the occasion of Teej. We are getting ready for tomorrow’s festival, getting henna (mehandi) designs adorned on our hands. This fasting is done by the married women for wishing a long life for their husband, and Lord Shiva and Parvati is worshipped.” Nivedita who fasted for her husband was buying shringar items for Hartalika. She said, “My husband is a doctor, and I will fast for his long life and good health. We will not eat anything nor drink water at all for a full 24 hours. We will dress ourselves up and then worship Lord Shiva and Parvati in the evening. We will eat the next day again after performing puja. Though essentially, this Teej festival fast is for married women, but nowadays even unmarried girls also observe fast to wish for a good husband.” Thus, tradition and ritual may vary from place to place but the essence of fast and puja remains the same.

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