Last week on Friday 21st August the Teej Festival was celebrated in Nepal.
Teej, short for Hartalika Teej, is a Hindu festival celebrated by women in Nepal (and many parts of India). It lasts three days: the first day consists of abundant feasting, the second day of rigid fasting and the third day, known as Rishi Panchami, of a holy bath.
Women wear in red, the bridal colour, sing and dance in the streets and in temples, worshipping Lord Shiva and his spouse Pravati. Married women pray for good health and prosperity of their husbands, while unmarried women pray to find a good healthy husband.
Unfortunately this year due to severe restrictions to contain the spread of Covid-19, the Festival hasn’t been celebrated as usual with big gatherings of women and the temples. The women that are dancing in the street are in small groups, wearing facemasks and keeping a safe distance apart. Pashupatinath, the biggest and most important Hindu temple in Kathmandu, Nepal was deserted. This shows how critical the situation still is in Nepal and gives an idea of the kind of disruption and impact this pandemic is having on this country.
When I was in Nepal last year, surprise was a common reaction when locals realised I was a solo traveller and still unmarried. It shows how important marriage is in the Nepali culture, which is dominated by men and patriarchal traditions. Girls often get married at a very early age (sometimes in their teenage years) and they rely on their husbands. It is not uncommon they lose their husbands when they are still young, but it is also not uncommon to remarry. Sadly, very often the new husband does not to accept the children she had from the previous marriage and the kids end up in the street.
This is what happened to many of our boys who are living in our home in Parwanipur. When I volunteered there, I was amazed by these boys, by how they live their lives with contentment and gratitude, having found a home, where they are protected, fed and given the opportunity to go to school and thus to have a brighter future.
If you’d like to volunteer at the boys home or from wherever you are in the world then click below to get in touch!