Earlier this week, lively processions soaked towns and cities primarily in Nepal and northern India in rich hues to celebrate the Teej Festival, which pays tribute to both female devotion and the end of a hot, dry summer. The exuberant festival draws residents and tourists from all over the world – particularly women, who gather to commemorate the reunion of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati, who fasted for over a century to prove her love of Shiva. The thought is that if observers seek blessings from Parvati on this special day – when Parvati was reunited with Shiva – they might enjoy a happy married life and a husband like Shiva.
In Jaipur, participants parade the Goddess Parvati throughout the streets and festoon themselves in ornate garb to pay tribute to her perseverance and virtue. Folk dancers, royal guards and heavily decorated elephants and camels trail behind the observers, transforming the streets into a massive parade-like celebration. Beyond prayer, women participate by decorating their hands with intricate mehndi or henna. A combination of fasting and over-the-top, sumptuous feasts often dictates the festival’s events.
The event – which is best experienced in the historic capital city of Jaipur – occurs sometime in the months of July and August, depending on the moon cycle. If you couldn’t make it, relive the marriage madness in these photos: