August 24, 2009

Bhutanese Atlantans kick off the Teej festival!

Sister-dancers Bhima and SanitaThapa-Magar sway and strut to Nepalese music in a dance they choreographed and performed for their community and guests

I loved that my new Bhutanese friends asked me to join them and a host of guests in dancing, singing, and sumptuous feasting on the first day of Teej. The festival of religious and cultural significance to Hindu women commemorates the reunion of the Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Celebrants believe that observing Teej helps strengthen the relationship between husband and wife.

My instant makeover
When I arrived at the Odari home to help transport people to the Clarkston Community Center, the celebration venue, Mrs. Odari and her friends performed my instant makeover: They showered gifts of red bangle bracelets and a Nepalese yellow blouse that Mrs. Odari had purchased just days before they left the refugee camp last year.

Being fussed over (and loving it)
I relished my new Bhutanese friends' careful watch all day. Bishnu, Nirmala, Madhavi, Bhima, Tilchand, and Kamal hovered closely, making sure that I was enjoying myself and ate enough. (At evening's end, Bhima fixed a heaping plate for me to extend my feasting into the night!). My hosts explained the goings-on, translated speeches, and introduced me to their families — parents, grandmothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews plus families of their families, friends, and neighbors. I met fellow volunteers, resettlement agency workers, teachers, and other guests, and I caught up with Eve Calhoun, RN, of the DeKalb County Board of Health, and McKenzie Wren of the Refugee Women’s Network.

At day’s end, my camera battery was drained capturing the festive energy and infectious joy of the crowd as they sang, clapped, and swerved to the music, the Thapa-Magar sisters dancing in their specially-ordered Buddhist costumes, and the red-sari-clad Hindu women swirling while children bounced and spun — human tops in steady motion.

More about Teej
Hi Tamar,

We Bhutanese family are glad to know you, and we want u to come and enjoy with us Teej, the festival of Hindu women in August or early September [the Hindu month of Bhadrapad or Bhado].

Married women observe Teej to honour Lord Shiva and for longevity of their husbands and married life. Unmarried girls observe Teej for good husbands. Traditional dances and songs are features. Red is considered auspicious so most women dress up in red saris and wear glass bangles and heavy ornaments.
  • FIRST DAY: Dar Khane Din (special food). Celebrations continue till midnight after which a 24-hour fast begins.
  • SECOND DAY: Fasting. Women visit temples to offer prayers to Lord Shiva and pray to the Lingum (phallic symbol of the Lord), offering flowers, sweets, and coins, and seeking blessings of divine spirits. They light an oil lamp… and [keep it] lit all night to avoid a bad omen if it goes out.
  • THIRD DAY: Rishi Panchami. Hindu Gods are worshipped to cleanse all sins of the previous year. Women take a holy bath with red mud on the roots of the sacred tree and with the leaves. They come out purified and absolved from all sins. After, they sit in a semicircle and chant devotional prayers.
The program starts 11:30 am but we want you to come at 10:00 am at Biren's house. Bishnu and Nirmala will ride with you to . Thank you very much.

— Madhavi Regmi

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sarman said...

Hi Tamar,
I am glad my cousines Vima and Till introduced with you. Your pages contain informations and stories of Bhutanese people which was unknown to me.I know there is resources reching on Bhutanese people's hands from Emory and CDC, but i never had an opportunity to get connected with any one who is involved directly in a great humaniterian efforts. You are doing a great job for the whole Bhutanese community.
Thank you for being a part of Teej festival and we hope to see you on upcoming Bhutanese events.


Bhima Thapa said...

Thank you so much. We all happy to being with you.
Hope u enjoyed lot with us. I watched the video it was great. Thanks for everything.
ok i will be in touching.
Do take care till than...

Love you Tamar
Bhima Thapa

Bishnu said...

wow it is fantastic!!..Thank you so much.

McKenzie Wren said...


This is wonderful! Thank you so much. What a special day. And thanks for putting the link to our website.

Is there a way for me to share that video on Facebook? I look forward to connecting again soon.

McKenzie Wren

Health Promoters Program Coordinator
Refugee Women's Network, Inc.
4151 Memorial Dr., Suite 103F
Decatur, GA 30032

404-299-0180 ext. 225
Fax: 404-296-9118

Please visit our website at

Tamar Orvell said...

Hi McKenzie,

Glad you found the festival special and enjoyed my blog post and video. To share the video on FB (or any site), copy this link:

Anonymous said...

Hi Tamar, thanks for the wonderful Teej video & thanks also for introducing our culture to the American people. Your efforts are appreciated.

Tulasi said...

Oh ! I saw the pictures of Teej, you know how happy they look. Your blog has became the common place for many emory folks to see BHUTANESE people.

Thank you for being a part of our community.