Teejri falls on the 3rd day after full moon of the Shravan month (3 days after Rakshabandhan) and it is celebrated as Kajari Teej in many parts of India. It is believed that those who fast on this day will be blessed with eternal marital bliss!
Generally this fast is observed by married women and teenager girls, though some boys and men too join them at times.
On Teejri, before the break of dawn, who ever wishes to fast, must have something sweet such as Lola (a thick, unleavened flatbread made from jaggery and/or sugar), Mithai, Koki with Rabri, or anything that will help him/her to sustain a food-less day ahead. This morning ritual is called Assur.
Koki with Rabri is one of the most preferred combinations for the Asur Ritual!
Post Asur one can go back to sleep!
In the morning, one must use Mussag/Musak (Miswak) instead of toothbrush /toothpaste. Musaag is a teeth cleaner made from a twig of the Salvadora persica tree. It has immense medicinal properties and is excellent to drive away the tooth and gum problems. It not only fights plaque, bad breath, kills bacteria, reduces tooth decay, but also helps to increase salivation and hence preventing the occurrence of Xerostomia (Abnormal dryness of the mouth).
After the bath, one can visit a temple or Tikana, and offer the prayers. Such Tikanas make sure that there is either a wheat grass or a small mango shrub sown in an earthen pot, so that the worshipers can offer water mixed with sugar, carrot chunks, basil leaves etc and light incense sticks.
After the Puja, one can have some tea or milk and young girls or elderly ladies can have some fruits too. Generally females apply Mehendi (Henna), or spend day doing light work and enjoying some good moments with neighbors, friends and family while waiting for the dusk.
In the evening, the womenfolk do ‘shingar’ to get ready for the occasion, wearing bright clothes and jewellery. They can have some tea or milk before visiting a tikana to hear the ‘Teejri Katha‘. Generally the women carry some wholewheat flour, cucumber, carrot etc and offer this to the priest, generally a lady (Brahmani/ Bhambryani). The katha is repeated for number of times, by the Brahman/ Brahmani, so that every batch of worshipers can hear it. Once back from temple, even water couldn’t be consumed till the moon rises.
While waiting for the moon to rise, an ‘argh’ is kept ready, wherein in a bowl, some steamed white rice, along with raw milk, sugar and chopped cucumber is mixed. A glass or ‘loti’ filled with water, an earthen lamp and some incense sticks are kept ready.
And when the moon rises, the argh is offered thrice, followed by offering water and lighting diya and incense sticks. The following verse is chanted while offering’ argh’ :
Teejri aye khumbra vesa kare (Teejri comes with luck)
aayon jo goryon (for you I will offer you a jug of milk) lotiyon kheer bare”. (Source of this chant is here).
Now the person observing the fast can have some water, followed by consuming some of the ‘argh’ and then can have a satvik meal. Mostly a meal of simple Dal, Rice, Potatoes and roti is consumed. Use of onion and garlic is prohibited.
Many people feel confused about the rituals and about the significance of each ritual. Here is a breakdown on each ritual followed on Teejri.
Why Teejri is observed?
Teejri mata is a symbol of fertility and hence we sow wheat or moong so that when they sprout there is a hope and positivity that reproduction could happen. In olden days the lady priests would sow these seeds in small pots and would handover to all the ladies who would come for Teejri puja so that each one would carry a symbol of fertility, back home.
So if you don't have a Teejri plant, just offer Jal ( milk, water and sugar) to Tulsi plant or any plant that you have around.
Some members are worried about Loda or Jhula ( The Teejri plant is swayed in a swing for Pooja), then please understand the reason first...
In India, from ancient times, swing or Jhula is a sign of happiness, love, romance and good times. Kids are rocked in jhula by parents to make them sleep soundly as it is comforting to them. Young girls in villages still enjoy swings chatting with friends. When we imagine Radha Krishna we visualise Gopiyan dancing around while Radha Krishna sway on the swing. I am sure many of us have idols of baby Krishna on swing and also idols of Radha Krishna on a Jhula. At so many places swings are decorated with flowers and idols of Radha Krishna are first swayed on swings and then couples enjoy the same. It is just a way to make the couples relax and enjoy some precious moments together.
So Jhula is significant in that sense. In case you donot have a jhula, just rock the pot a few times or make a jhula using cotton sari or duppata or chaadar as we do for babies. And even of you don't that it is absolutely ok. Don't worry at all.
Another ritual is using Musag instead of toothpaste and brush to brush your teeth on this day.
Now Musag is not only a natural toothbrush but has so many medicinal properties that it is ideal to use it on this day if not regularly.
Since we don't eat food on this day and many don't even drink water not much of saliva is produced in our mouth and hence the mouth feels dry and also some many experience bad breath. Musag helps to deal with all these issues so it is advised to use it on Teejri. But if you don't have it, worry not. Just drink enough water and if you are not supposed to have water then just gargle with plain water a few times throughout the day.
Mehendi is another important part of Teejri.
Now it has many significances....it is a part of 16 Shringar and most of us love to adorn our hands with bright colored mehendi. It makes us happy to see our hands painted with beautiful mehendi. Also mehendi is supposed to cool us down, relieving stress.
But if you don't have mehendi it is ok. Just do some breathing exercises or play your favorite music, talk with your friends, to keep yourself anxiety free.
Katha is also an important ritual. It is like a motivational session where you feel enthusiastic to follow rituals and fast again in coming years. When we visit a temple to hear katha then it is blissful as you get to socialize with others and everyone is nicely dressed up, chitchatting, some are strangers while others are those whom you haven't met for long time. Basically people from your own community will be around. It is a good way to take your mind off the hunger pangs as the day goes off easily but by evening many feel hungry and irritable. So visiting temple during that time helps us to overcome the mind and body issues, if any, caused by fasting.
But if you can't go to temple just listen the katha online. Listen to anything that soothes your mind and help you control your hunger pangs, if any....... something that motivates you to pull off the fast successfully.
Another ritual is to carry flour, cucumber (vango) etc to the Brahmini while visiting temple for katha. The idea was to carry some raw ingredients that would help the priest family to sustain or thrive since priests in olden days would rely only on dakshina as they won't have any other mode of earning.
So in case you cannot go to temple, you can send rice/ oil/ flour etc to any temple around or to Brahmins home, if possible. Or simply donate some food or money to any needy around.
Argh is given when one spots the moon. Using a Chaani to look at moon is what some ladies follow but that is simply a Karva chauth ritual glamorized by teleserials and has nothing to do with Teejri. You can just light few agarbatti and offer some argh and water to Moon. The argh consists of cooked rice, milk, sugar and some chopped cucumber. One is supposed to break the fast with this. It is not a rocket science to understand that rice, milk, sugar and cucumber, all helps to charge up our bodies (carbs) and replenish lost water too. You can then have a satvik meal. Most of us have dal, rice, shallow fried potatoes and roti for the meal as these give us good amount of protein and carbs that our body needs after fasting. Some have just dal roti, some have only fruits. You can have whatever suits your body but please donot indulge. Don't cook up a storm. There is no point in fasting when you end up eating a lavish meal. (Inputs by A. Keswani)