Hartalika Teej is Hindu festival for married ladies who observe a fast on this day in order to attain a long and healthy life for their husbands and enjoy marital bliss for a long time. The festival is celebrated on the third day of the bright lunar fortnight in the month of Bhadrapada (August-September), according to the Hindu calendar. The festival also signifies the arrival of monsoon and women enjoy the day with showers of rain and cool breezes. It symbolizes renewal of earth after long and harsh summer.
Though this legend is common to all the teej festivals, the one striking feature of this day is that Parvati’s father was against her marriage to Shiva and wanted her to marry someone else. To save her from her father’s anger and forcefulness, Parvati was abducted by one of her female friends who hid her in a dense forest. The festival derives its name from this incident as Hartalika is a combination of two words i.e., ‘Harta’ meaning abduction and ‘Aalika’ meaning a female companion.
After getting up before sunrise and taking a bath, women dress themselves in beautiful attire. They wear numerous pieces of jewelry and get ready like a newlywed bride. Attire, generally of green color is prefered as it depicts freshness and renewal. they also wear matching green bagels. They use flowers in their adornments. Women, along with their other family members, decorate the house. The place of worship is washed and decorated.
An idol of Shiva and Parvati is made up of sand is used for worshipping and performing the other rituals. Women offer items like henna, vermilion, flowers etc., to Parvati as they symbolize marital status of a women. Lord Shiva is offered fruits and incense sticks. Women also offer gifts to their mother-in-law and sister-in-laws. Female friends and relatives living nearby can also be presented by various items. Couples often sit together at the time of Puja and listen to the above mentioned story. There are two different auspicious durations of time for performing puja. it can either be done in the morning or in the evening but true devotees prefer doing it both the times.
As the day is an important one for women, they mainly rest and have fun on the day. Despite staying without food throughout the day, their zeal and enthusiasm stays commendable. They play around with their friends and indulge into merry-making. They shop and apply henna in their palms. Local groups also organize small functions like singing and dancing competition for ladies. Swing sets are made by putting ropes on tree trunks and women enjoy the set-up. The day becomes a cultural event and is filled with happiness.
The fast observed by women is to assure a long life for their spouses. Just like Parvati showed her dedication and devotion to Shiva, similarly by observing a fast without consuming food or water, women show their love and devotion to their husbands. They also pray to get married to the same man in all of their future lives.
Women who are unmarried seek for a perfect match for themselves. They hope to be loved, respected and honored by their husbands like Shiva, who proved to be an ideal husband. Also according to the legend, Shiva did inform Parvati that whosoever will observe this fast will be blessed like her with a loyal companion.