Tomorrow,August 31st, is Hindu festival of Teej. Nepali women celebrate this day with gusto, fasting and praying for their husband’s longevity. Unmarried ones too take part, asking God for a good husband.
I never understood Teej. My grandmother, a stern lady with no time for flimsy religious drama, never favored the festival, and kind of rejected it after her sons got married. I grew up looking at Teej with suspicion, for me it was part of grand scheme of Nepali patriarchal society to tame and shame women and girls.
Thankfully, my parents never made me feel like an incomplete individual who needs a man to fulfill her life. So I never prayed or fasted during Teej, hoping for a good husband. After I got married, I continued rejecting the propaganda of female subjugation championed by Teej.
But, you know when you are an immigrant/ migrant living amongst foreign culture, you give up the privilege to diss your culture or to argue with your culture. If I completely ban Teej in my home, am I ready to ban other aspects of Nepali culture too that are not in line with my feminist ideals. And if I keep the ban spree, will my daughter end up with no culture at all?
The possibility of my daughter growing up without complete sense of her heritage made me think.
From this year, I am welcoming Teej at my home but this is my kind if Teej. No praying or fasting( momma is an atheist, y’all), but we will dress up in traditional Nepali dress and sing Teej songs and dance a little. We are also going to use this day to reconnect with Nepali community in an around our neighborhood.
My kind of Teej will not tell my daughter that she is less or that she needs a husband to fulfill her. My Teej will honor marriage, but not make the wife a sorry being who needs to beg and pray for her husband’s life and health.
This year, I will celebrate Teej, and not feel bad about doing so.