My fascination behind the Hartalika Teej Vrat and the legendViews — By Namraata Badheka on September 18, 2012 at 2:02 PM
It’s been about two months since I’ve become a Punekar. This vibrant city has never ceased to awe my senses. Last evening I got home to a bustling house. I wondered what the occasion was. Upon asking, my roomies told me that preparations were going on for observing the Hartalika Vrat. I was surprised. I asked them the reason behind observing such a severe fast. They sat me down and explained the legend behind the popular fast.
As a tribute to Goddess Parvati’s severe penance to attain Lord Shiva, the Hartalika Vrat is observed my both married and unmarried women. Married women observe the fast for matrimonial happiness and single women fast to get married to a man like Lord Shiva. The Hartalika vrat is done by women observing “neerjal”, by fasting rigorously without food and water for an entire day. Suddenly a thought comes to my head. Isn’t there a saying that says that God helps only those who help themselves? So why starve? But I quickly brush aside that thought.
With excitement, my roommates recite the story behind the Hartalika Teej Vrat. According to the legend, Lord Shiva ignores the world after Sati Devi’s demise. Goddess Parvati, reincarnated, performs severe penance to gain the love and respect of Lord Shiva and get married to him. She survives on grass and fruits for years till she is accepted by Lord Shiva. Again, another thought crosses my mind. Why is it that only women, be it in legends or in reality, are tested for loyalty and devotion? Why haven’t I heard of men performing such a penance to win the love of the woman he loves? While I pondered over this question, my roomies continued with the rituals to be followed during the vrat.
During the Hartalika Teej vrat, a tiny puja house is set up with banana bark and leaves. An idol or picture of Goddess Parvati is decorated with new clothes and all the jazz. A Shivling is made out of clay and set next to Goddess Parvati. Women get makeovers done and go green when it comes to clothing and bangles. The legend of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati is recited. The fervour with which women celebrate this day makes me smile. I guess this is a great way for family and friends to get together and make merry.