Teej Festival: Embracing Tradition across Continents

Dhruva Thapa

Over the past decade, the Teej Festival has grown into a global celebration of Nepali culture, uniting communities worldwide. As we reflect on its evolution, it’s essential to acknowledge the festival’s enduring significance and some emerging trends that require our attention. While we celebrate Teej’s expansion, we must also be mindful of certain unhealthy practices that have developed. These trends include an excessive focus on fashion and jewelry, irresponsible alcohol consumption, and the impact of social media. Let’s explore these aspects while highlighting the importance of preserving the festival’s core values and traditions, especially among the younger generation growing up in the Western world.

One remarkable aspect of Teej is its global reach. Beyond its traditional heartland in Nepal and India, Teej is now celebrated in various countries with Nepali-speaking communities. The festival has found a home in the USA, Canada, the UK, Australia, Bhutan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and many other nations. As the Nepali diaspora continues to expand, Teej serves as a powerful bond that connects people to their roots and cultural heritage, no matter where they reside.

Yet, as Teej transcends borders, some unhealthy practices have begun to surface. One concerning trend is the growing emphasis on extravagant attire and jewelry during Teej celebrations. While dressing up and looking one’s best are important aspects of the festival, it’s crucial to remember that Teej primarily celebrates our social and cultural values, not material wealth. To preserve the festival’s cultural essence, we can look to some of the older traditions of celebrating Teej, where simplicity and authenticity were key.

In the past, Teej was observed with a focus on devotion, fasting, and connection through shared rituals. Women would gather in small groups to visit local temples and perform traditional dances. The exchange of homemade sweets and simple gifts held more significance than extravagant displays of wealth.

Another issue demanding our attention is the consumption of alcohol during Teej festivities. Irresponsible drinking can lead to dangerous situations, including drunk driving accidents. Such behavior not only endangers lives but also detracts from the true spirit of the festival. Promoting responsible and safe practices during Teej is essential to ensure everyone’s well-being.

Additionally, the trend of sharing Teej’s experiences on social media platforms can inadvertently create an unhealthy sense of competition. Many women feel pressured to wear different outfits and jewelry for each event, which can be financially burdensome and impractical. This pressure to maintain appearances on social media can overshadow the authentic joy of celebrating Teej from the heart.

It’s also worth noting that the overexposure of extravagant attire and valuable jewelry can attract unwanted attention, putting participants at risk of theft or robbery. Safety should always be a priority when attending public gatherings, especially when wearing expensive items.

As we continue to cherish Teej as a symbol of our cultural heritage, it is imperative to address these concerns while finding a balance between preserving tradition and adapting to changing times. The essence of Teej lies in unity, equality, and celebrating our cultural roots. To ensure that everyone can participate and feel equal, organizers and attendees alike must prioritize the true spirit of Teej over material displays. By doing so, we can ensure that Teej remains a celebration that brings communities together in joy, unity, and cultural pride, all while staying true to its cherished traditions and values, regardless of the country or continent we call home.