It’s Time Again for Teej

It is time again for Teej, the Nepali festival where women (from some of the ethnic groups in Nepal) fast for the long healthy lives of their husbands.

One of my first blog postings last year was about Teej– what the festival was about and my own personal feelings about participating in the festival.

This year I was quite excited. A few weeks ago several women in the community started planning a gathering so we  (with significant others) could be together during this female centric holiday. S-di was planning a big Daar dinner (the feast before the fast), with lots of music, dancing and merriment (as usual).

Next the plan was to be together for the fast on Saturday– relaxing, dressing in red, and going to the temple to meet with other Nepali women for the puja. Lastly, after breaking the fast at midnight on Saturday, we would gather on Sunday morning at a community center where the local Bhutanese refugees were planning a special puja to close the festival celebration.

Women in Kathmandu celebrating Teej

Until… I realized that months and months ago I bought tickets and agreed to go with P and some of our male friends to the US Open Semi Finals in New York on the same day as the Teej fast. If the tickets were less expensive, or the plan more spur of the moment, I would definitely drop it, but I feel kind of locked in. Needless to say I’m really disappointed.

That’s the problem with Nepali festivals. I never know when they are going to happen. I generally know when to start asking about them—Teej is usually in late August or early September. Dashain is in early to mid October (I think this year it’s Oct 8-23rd, but I’m not sure when the main day is yet) and Tihar is in early to mid November (this year Nov 4-7th), but festivals never seem to be on anyone’s radar until they start talking about festival dates and celebrations during conversations with parents back home.

So I think the fast this year will be hard. Waking up early, walking around New York all day, sitting out in the sun, pretending to watch tennis while day dreaming about food. As I’ve mentioned to some of my Muslim friends and students, I have a lot of respect for those who participate in the Ramadan fast. It takes a lot of dedication and will power not to cheat, and for those who come from whole cultures and communities that celebrate, it must be truly challenging to move to a place where there are very few people who commemorate such an important festival. (And by the way, today is Eid-al-Fitr—Mubarak!)

Thus Saturday won’t be as enjoyable participating in the fast essentially on my own instead of with a community, but I’m still going to do it. It’s my last Teej before marriage, and next year will be particularly special as my very first married Teej– which I will be able to prove to the wider Nepali community by wearing my very own red wedding pote. No tennis matches next year for sure!

Our friends AS and N who got married this summer ("Nepali Wedding in New England"). AS is wearing her red wedding pote with golden tillary. She will wear this necklace again tomorrow for Teej.

I also still plan to wear red. Last summer when we were in Nepal P’s mother gave me a few red necklaces and red tikkas that she specifically asked me to wear during Teej. I’m wearing one of her necklaces today in honor of Daar (I’m also wearing a reddish-orange kurta top as well).

So happy Teej to those who might be celebrating, and happy fasting. May the lives of you and your partner (and family) be long, happy and healthy!

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5 responses to “It’s Time Again for Teej

  1. happy Teez!
    Is Teez done by everybody in Nepal irrespective of religion? I thought Teez is mainly a Hindu festival or who believes in Hinduism. Atleast thats what the case in India, not sure about Nepal. Perhaps you can throw some light on it…..

  2. But thinking again, I do think it makes sense because I guess Nepal is a Hindu country mainly…..or has a history of Hindu Kingdom :-)

  3. Hi N–

    Not all ethnic groups celebrate Teej– even among Hindus. For example my Newar friends don’t really celebrate, unless they decide to go to a daar feast because a friend invited them.

    P’s mother celebrates Teej even though she is Newar (and also more of a Buddhist) because P’s dad is a Chetri (a caste that does celebrate it), and she does it out of her own choice and desire to participate. Kind of like me. ;)

  4. Happy Teej everyone, we had almost the entire Nepali community in my house this weekend celebrating. I’m not married, but my mother was telling me as I get older I need to participate in more Nepali customs on my own when I move away from the family. Americannepali I really commend you on your commitment of fasting, I am horrible at it! I wish our Nepali culture had the husbands celebrating wives :)

  5. So, I wouldn’t say I “celebrated” Teej, since I spent Saturday cleaning and gardening…but I did manage to stick to a fast. Thanks for the info!

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