By Sampada A. Khatiwada
Kathmandu, Aug. 20: Haritalika Teej, the fasting festival of Hindu women, is right around the corner but due to the fear of COVID-19 looming around us, huge pre-celebrations of the festival were not noticed this year.
In the previous years, Nepali women used to host parties, called Dar, months before the festival. Teej special songs, dances, and pictures of women in dazzling red attire used to flood the social media platforms during the Teej season. The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly muted all the Dar parties that women used to organise before the day of fasting.
Considering the increasing cases of novel coronavirus infection across the nation, especially in the Kathmandu Valley, majority of Hindu women seem to have decided to suspend their Teej celebrations this year.
Jagriti Timilsina, 33, of Kaushaltar said, “During the Teej festival, Dar parties used to be an occasion to catch up with our families, relatives and friends. But this year, due to the COVID-19 scare, and the government’s order to avoid crowding, none of my relatives or acquaintances have organised Teej parties.”
“My daughter is four-year-old and I have a 76-year-old mother-in-law to take care of. I am afraid of being the carrier of the virus into my house. Thus, I decided to not participate in any kind of gatherings this year,” she added.
Like Timilsina, Amrita Koirala, 42, a banker, said that she decided to cancel the Teej party at her home due to the threat of virus transmission. “Me, along with all of my relatives, decided to not host any parties this year,” she said.
“The nation is fighting a tough battle against COVID-19, thousands of people are struggling to recover from it while more than a hundred have already succumbed to the virus infection. This is definitely not the time to celebrate,” said Koirala.”Our office always used to organise Teej parties for women employees. But this year, we decided to cancel the party. A party held to entertain us could be the hotspot for the virus transmission. Health should always be our first priority,” she added.
Aanchal Shahi, a social worker, has viewed suspension of Teej parties this year as a silver lining in the COVID-19 cloud. “We should protect and preserve our culture and tradition and pass it on to the succeeding generations. But Teej celebrations, of late, were becoming an opportunity for some women to show off in the name of culture,” said Shahi.
“With all the over-the-top parties and controversial music and dances, the Teej festival was somewhat losing its significance. The COVID-19 pandemic has minimised the exaggerated celebrations which used to kick off months before the actual festival,” she added.
Meanwhile, the prohibition enforced in the Kathmandu Valley has come into effect from Wednesday midnight. This will certainly halt all the crowding in temple premises and at homes during the day of Teej.
Dr. Rabindra Pandey, a public health specialist, said, “This year, women should limit their Teej celebrations within their homes. Teej festival followed by crowding of Hindu devotees in temples and various other places were viewed as a threat to public health amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the prohibition order has been enforced, the threat posed by the festival has been reduced.”
However, the increasing probability of transmission of the novel coronavirus calls for boosting our immunity. Thus, women who observe fasting during Teej must make sure that they are eat adequate amount of fruits and other immunity boosters as such, added Dr. Pandey.
– The Rising Nepal