Teej, the Hindu Fasting Festivals for Women

A Monsoon Holiday Dedicated to Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva

heart hape of Hands of an Indian bride painted with henna
Towfiqu Photography / Getty Images

The Hindu festival of Teej is marked by fasting of women who pray to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, seeking their blessings for marital bliss. It is a series of festivals that occur during the Hindu month of Shravana (Sawan) and Bhadrapada (Bhado), which corresponds to the Indian monsoon season of July, August, and September. 

The Three Types of Teej

There are three types of Teej festivals celebrated during the monsoon months.

The first is the Hariyali Teej, also known as Chhoti Teej or Shravana Teej, which falls on Shukla Paksha Tritiya—the third day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu monsoon month of Shravana. The dates for Hariyali Teej in 2018 through 2025 are:

  • August 13, 2018 
  • August 3, 2019 
  • July 23, 2020 
  • August 11, 2021 
  • July 31, 2022 
  • August 19, 2023 
  • August 7, 2024
  • July 27, 2025

Hariyali Teej is followed by Kajari Teej  (Badi Teej), which comes after 15 days of Hariyali Teej. The third type of Teej, Haritalika Teej, comes one month after Hariyali Teej and is observed during Shukla Paksha Tritiya, or the third day of the bright fortnight of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada.

Despite the name, Akha Teej does not belong to this category of festivals. It is another name for Akshaya Tritiya or Gangaur Tritiya.

History and Origin of Teej

It is believed that the name of this festival comes from a small red insect called "teej" that emerges from the earth during the monsoon season. Hindu mythology has it that on this day, Parvati came to the Shiva's abode, marking the union of the husband and wife.

Teej exemplifies the sacrifice of a wife to win the mind and heart of her husband. According to Hindu mythology, Parvati carried out a rigorous fast for 108 years to prove her love and devotion for Shiva before he accepted her as his wife. Some scriptures say that she was born 107 times before she was reborn as Parvati, and on her 108th birth, she was granted the reward of being the wife of Shiva.

Teej, therefore, honors the devotion of Parvati, who is also known as Teej Mata by those who observe the holiday. 

Teej, a Regional Monsoon Festival

Teej is not a pan-Indian festival. It is mainly celebrated in Nepal and the northern Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Punjab in various forms.

In northern and western India, Teej celebrates the arrival of monsoon season following the hot months of summer. It has a broader significance in the western Indian arid state of Rajasthan because observation of the festival there seeks to provide relief from the scorching heat of summer.

Rajasthan Tourism organizes a Teej fair called Sawan Mela or "monsoon festival" every year to showcase the customs and traditions of the state. It is also celebrated in Hindu Himalayan kingdom of Nepal, where Teej is a major festival.

At the famous Pashupatinath Temple in Kathmandu, women circumambulate the Shiva Linga and perform a special puja (worship ritual) of Shiva and Parvati.

Celebrations of Teej

While ritual fasting is central to Teej, the festival is marked by colorful celebrations, especially by women, who enjoy swing rides, song, and dance. Swings are often hung from trees or placed in the courtyard of homes and decked with flowers.

Young girls and married women apply mehendi or henna tattoos. Women wear beautiful saris and adorn themselves with jewelry, then visit temples to offer special prayers to goddess Parvati. A special sweet called ghewar is prepared and distributed as a prasad, or divine offering.

Significance of Teej

As a festival for women, Teej celebrates the victory of a wife's love and devotion toward her husband. It is also an occasion for married women to visit their parents and return with gifts for their in-laws and spouse. Teej, therefore, provides an opportunity to renew family bonds.

As a festival marking the advent of the monsoon rainy season, Teej celebrates a break from the sweltering heat and allows people to enjoy the swing of the monsoon.