Teej has once more come with a bang! Anything which deals exclusively with women is bound to bring controversy! Specially in a country like Nepal, where shift from feudalism to capitalism is gradually taking place after people’s movement and people’s war. And with compulsory presence of critical mass of minimum 33 per cent of women in parliament, women’s confidence is getting emboldened!
During Panchayat era it was to do with politicising gender issue against the monarchy. And after People’s War it was to do with the song “poila jana pau” “allow me to elope” song by Komal Oli. She raked the feudal mindset of majority of people by portraying Parvati not as docile worshipping woman but as a rebel who dared to resist parent’s choice for her marriage. She was followed by Sophia Thapa who sang, “no brata please” “no fasting please” yet challenging the act of one way servility towards men. And now the act of provocative dancing of Aliza Gautam is being questioned! In a country where an act of coitus between Shiva and Parvati is celebrated, worshipped and ritualised why should a married artist’s provocative posture in Teej dance create such an uproar? Teej has in course of time become a package, a package of an entertainment, an empowerment and an identity. With entertainment comes women’s economic power, with empowerment comes freedom and with identity comes sense of belonging between women. These three in one often becomes potent for most of men riding on patriarchal values.
I have question to those who take Teej to the level of porn art: are they willing to marry bohemian men like Shiva? And to those who take Teej as purely a purity symbol are they willing to tolerate sexy Teej dances since they worship coitus act of Shiva and Parvati? Added to all these issues is the introduction of mobile phone and all sorts of apps. This has made Teej reach all nooks and corners of Nepal. It has spread to all communities. It has also spread to international reach.
Mobile has in fact accelerated the visibility and audibility of Teej around the country, region and the world. Potent mix of love relation, entertainment and religion has made Teej an ever growing industry!
For the feminists Teej should be of women, for women and by women! For the religious zealot Teej is all about fasting, praying and purifying. For the business agencies Teej is all about consumption, commercialisation and disply! For the anthropologist Teej is an interesting study of shifting tradition and modernity, fusion of Hindu culture with others, shifting gender relations and its rapid spread from local to global reach. For all, Teej has become all the more important event with special meaning. For the single mothers, single women, LGBT, Teej is an occasion to meet, dine and dance together.
In today’s context many Shivas are toiling in the Middle East while Parvatis are busy taking care of children in Nepal. And many Parvatis are working in care industry in Israel, while Shivas are looking after their homes in Nepal. For an average woman Teej is all about feasting, fasting and fretting!