The month of Saawan falls during the monsoon season during the Gregorian months of July and August. Since there is lush greenery around at this time, this Teej festival is also called Hariyali Teej, meaning Green Teej. Hindus consider the months of Saawan to be holy and auspicious, and various fasts devoted to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati are observed during this period. Every year, Hariyali Teej is celebrated on the third day of the first fortnight of Shravan. This year, the festival will be celebrated on Thursday, 23rd July. This Hindu celebration is most popular in parts of Northern and Western India; Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab, Rajasthan, and even in many parts of Bihar.
In Hindu Mythology, it is believed that it was on the day of Hariyali Teej, that Lord Shiva finally agreed to marry Goddess Parvati, after she underwent 108 births and rebirths. Goddess Parvati was in love with Lord Shiva and wished to be married to him. However, since Lord Shiva was extremely religious, his discipline and desire for abstinence blinded him from seeing Goddess Parvati’s devotion towards him. He remained engrossed in the deep forests, preoccupied with his meditation.
Goddess Parvati realised that to gain Lord Shiva’s attention, she would have to prove her love to him. She embarked on the treacherous journey to the Himalayas, and decided to meditate in order to attract the attention of Lord Shiva. It is believed that Devi Parvati underwent great penance and prayed continuously to show her devotion to Lord Shiva, so he would accept her as his wife. This is why Goddess Parvati is also known as Teej Mata.
Inspired by the Hindu deities, women started to celebrate the festival of Teej to eternalize their bond of marriage. Women worship Goddess Parvati to grant them marital bliss and pray for the good health of their husbands. Thus, on this day, women; married or unmarried, keep a fast in the name of Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva, two of Hindu mythology’s Supreme deities. The fast is similar to one of Karvachauth, in which married women avoid drinking or eating anything for the entire day. To break the fast, the women pray to Parvati Devi, at night, when the Moon comes out. These wives pray for the long life of their husband. While married women pray for a happy marriage, the unmarried girls pray to Lord Shiva to give them a caring and loving husband.
As per the customs and traditions of the festival, during Hariyali Teej, married women visit their parents’ homes. They wear new clothes and (mostly) green bangles, gather in courtyards and sing Teej songs. Swings are painted and decorated with flowers. They are set up in gardens and verandas for girls and women to play on. Since no celebration in India is considered ‘complete’ without the exchange of Indian sweets, ’Churma’ and "Ghewar" are a special treat prepared on this day. It is believed customary for mothers-in-law to give a new daughter-in-law a piece of jewellery on her first Teej after marriage.