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
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.
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.
- 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.
— Madhavi Regmi
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