This is an incredible love story in Hindu Puranas. A love story between Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. What is incredible about it? The time it spans. Apparently, Parvati prayed for 108 lifetimes to get Shiva as her husband. Finally, after years of strict penance and worship of Lord Shiva in the form of a Linga made of sand, Lord Shiva accepted her as his wife. The day of their union falls on the third day of the Shravana month (lunar calendar). This day is celebrated as Hariyali Teej even now in northern parts of India.
Hariyali literally means greenery. It reflects Parvati’s ecstasy as much as it reflects the green shawl worn by Mother Earth in this season.
In Haryana, it’s an official holiday and a very special day for women- both married or unmarried. Women decorate their hands and feet with Henna and receive tonnes of gifts from everyone around- Mainly new dresses and bangles and other ornaments. Women fast for the day to pray for conjugal bliss and longevity for their husbands. Unmarried girls keep the fast to get a husband of their choice.
While men are busy flying the kites the whole day, womenfolk are enjoying swinging on the swings specially made for them on tree branches in open courtyards or gardens. They have a day off from domestic duties. After the morning Puja of Goddess Parvati and Shivlinga made of sand, their day is spent in decorating themselves and swinging with friends. Favored costume color- obviously green! Traditionally, married women come to visit their parents during this period- so no tension of any in-laws and they enjoy complete freedom and abundant joy in giggling and gossiping and sharing sweet nothings. For an Indian woman, it is rare to find days that they can spend with their parents and childhood friends with no work- I guess the ancient people have gifted her a holiday, this one day in the year.
In Rajasthan, the first monsoon showers are expected at this time and the fragrance of wet soil lingers as the parched earth drinks up the first rain. Teej Mata, as Goddess Parvati is called, is taken out in an elaborate procession followed by large crowds. Rajasthani women too adorn themselves with henna, new dresses, and ornaments. There are swings made for their pleasure and evenings are packed with cultural activities. Sattu is the special sweetmeat made in this part. The theme color is green and most women choose to wear various shades of green on Hariyali Teej.
In Punjab, the specialty of Teeyan (Teej in Punjabi) is the Gidda dance performed by women. It is enchanting to watch beautifully decked up women dancing in circles, ever so gracefully. It is as vibrant as Bhangra with a dollop of feminine charm to it.
In Chandigarh, famous Rock gardens are decorated and fitted with many swings for Hariyali Teej and is a wonderful sight to watch and soak in the joyfulness.
In Uttar Pradesh, the same day is celebrated as Jhulan Utsav or Hindola Utsav (swing celebration) Even here you will find girls and women merrily swinging. However, they relate this day to commemorate Lord Krishna and His beloved Radha. It is a far more religious occasion and the celebrations take place more in the temples. Idols of Krishna and Radha adorned in green clothes, sitting on a swing are worshiped in all Krishna temples throughout the region.