"Teej" refers to the "third" day that falls every month after the new moon (Amavasya), and the third day after the full moon night (Poornima) of every month. Various teejs are celebrated by Rajputs such as Akhateej (popularly known as Akshay Tritiya), Gangaur teej and Badi teej (also known as Kajari teej).
Some other popular teej festivals include Hartalika Teej (popularly known as Karwa Chauth), Haryali Teej (or Choti teej) etc.
Goddess Parvati is known as 'Teej Mata' and 'Gangaur' in Rajasthan. According to Hindu mythology, it was only after years of tapasya that she was granted the boon to marry Lord Shiva. On this occasion, women seek her blessings for a happy married life and a good husband like Shiva. Women observe fast throughout the day, put mehendi on their hands, play under trees on swings and have lavish dinner in the evening. Sattus or flour & gramflour cakes are prepared and kept in the puja. They are consumed when women break the fast after the moon rise in the evening.
This post focuses on one of the most important teej festivals celebrated by Rajput women in the monsoon season known as 'Badi Teej'. This teej is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati, commemorating her union with Lord Shiva.
Both Gangaur and Badi Teej festivals are celebrated by both married and unmarried women. However, Gangaur has special significance for unmarried women while Teej has special significance for married women. Gangaur is celebrated by all girls (especially after they hit puberty) praying for a life partner with qualities of lord Shiva. Teej is celebrated by all girls, especially married women, to pray for continuance of a good married life such as that of Goddess Parvati.
It is because of this reason, married Rajput women compulsorily observe Teej Ajuna after their marriage.
Gangaur is also dedicated to goddess Parvati and is celebrated for the same reason. However, there is one difference. On Gangaur, the entire Shiva family (aka Shiv parivaar) is worshiped along with Parvati (known as Gangaur). It is mandatory to worship the entire Shiv parivaar and therefore, also placed alongside Gangaur idol are Shiva (known as Isar), and their son (known as Bhaaiyaa). In Rajput families, permanent wooden images of the three are painted afresh every year by reputed painters and worshiped for at least a month. Another difference between the idols of Teej and Gangaur is that the Parvati idol has a canopy during the Teej Festival (signifying her approaching the mandapam to marry Shiva) while the Gangaur idol does not have a canopy (signifying both pre-marriage and post marriage form of Parvati).