Teej ko rahara aayo bari lae! The desire and happiness of Teej has come! This very famous Teej song is sung everywhere in Nepal during the Teej festival, as women and girls are out celebrating dressed in a sea of red - the most auspicious color for Hindu festivals.
Teej is a Hindu festival for women celebrating the long life of their husbands and strong relationships between them. Unmarried women and girls celebrate together while they fast and hope for a kind, healthy and wealthy husband in the future. On Teej, the women first offer their worship to Hindu God, Lord Shiva. After this, they spend their whole day singing and dancing in holy sites, temples, and public spaces like roads, streets and markets. All day, the women express their happiness and sorrows through song and dance. Though the women fast throughout the day without even drinking a drop of water, Teej brings smiles to the faces of the women.
Traditionally, married women will visit their mother’s home to celebrate Teej. The parents invite their daughters or send someone to bring their daughters home to celebrate Teej. There, on this night before the festival, the men of the house prepare a special feast for the women called “Dar”. Dar varies from place to place but it includes the heavy foods such as selroti, puri, curries, meats, fishes, yoghurt, and rice porridge with some deserts to help the women stay strong through their fast. In the evening of Teej, Hindu women and girls break their fast by worshipping Lord Shiva. Married women worship their husbands and break their fast by drinking the water from their husbands’ hands. After that, they eat a snack of fruit, milk and yoghurt.
With the flow of the time, the role of the women has been dynamic and the changing role of women in Nepali society has become evident. The role of the women in Aythos communities has extended beyond traditional household chores and family care to women undertaking most of the farm work and heading the household for the family while their husbands are abroad to make money. Aythos always appreciates the way women step up to lead in their families and communities, but society has not always held the same appreciation. While the conversation of gender equality is starting, we still have a long way to go. Aythos strives for women to have equal opportunity, education, and rights with everyone working together in every field. Aythos’ work with women on sustainable livelihoods programs is now expanding to health programs to teach reproduction, maternal health and nutrition - topics that these women did not have a chance to learn about in school. Aythos celebrates the position of women because we believe that “a woman with a voice is, by definition, a strong woman.” - Melinda Gates