Hindu Nepalese Women Celebrate Teej

  • Women attending the Teej festival at Satya Narayan Mandir in Queens, on Sept. 3 (Photos by Anuz Thapa for Voices of NY)
Around 1,000 women living in New York and New Jersey gathered together on Sept. 3 at Satya Narayan Mandir, a Hindu temple in Queens, to celebrate Teej, one of the biggest festivals celebrated by Hindu Nepalese women.

NY/NJ Nepali Women Group, a women’s volunteer group based in New York and New Jersey, hosted the celebration on that day. The group of nine women have been facilitating the celebration since 2007.

Geeta Khanal, 41, is one of the members of the group. A resident of New Jersey for eight years, Khanal says that the huge gathering on Teej is really fascinating. “We could celebrate the festival at our home too, but I feel this august gathering is required for women here, especially for those who don’t have relatives here,” she said. “I can’t express the feeling in words when we see all women dancing and singing collectively here.”

Clad mostly in red saris, the women made the interior of the temple look like it was painted red. Red is considered auspicious for women observing Teej, so most of them dress up in red. Red is also the color of bridal attire for Hindu women in Nepal.

Married women adorned themselves wearing “Pote” (a necklace made of glass beads), “Tilahari” (a gold pendant added to Pote), bangles and other different kinds of ornaments.

The three-day festival, which generally falls in the month of August or early September, starts with women enjoying delicious dishes which are popularly known as “dar.” The second day is the main day, the Teej, during which women pay homage to Lord Shiva by fasting. It is a day in which women are said to be fasting for the well-being of their husbands. Unmarried women fast to seek a good husband.

The last day of the festival is called Rishi Panchami. On this day, the seven sages of the Hindu Pantheon are worshiped by women in the belief that it will cleanse all sins of the previous years.

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