From the top of Jaipur’s famed Jawa Mahal we were surprised how close we were to the City Palace and Jantar Mantar in the city centre. We’d been there in the morning and learned that the Teej procession was due to start at the adjacent Tripolia Gate at six that evening. Although it was only 4 pm we decided to head for the location by cutting through the back-streets of Jaipur. This turned out to be a good idea as it threw up many photo opportunities of life on the streets of the ‘Pink City’.
The Teej festival is mainly celebrated in Rajasthan, and especially Jaipur, its capital. It lasts for two days and welcomes the arrival of the Monsoon season ( July-August). It is also known as the ‘Festival of Swings’. Married women observe fasts praying for the long life of their husbands, and for a blissful marriage, whilst the men pray to the rain God for rain and a good harvest.
The significance of the festival goes back into mythology and celebrates the reunion of the Goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva after many years separation.
Festivals in India observe many rituals, Teej mainly focuses on women. Parents give their married daughters ‘Shrinjhara’ – a collection of gifts including henna bangles, Rajasthani sweets, and Lahariya (multi-coloured saris).These are all used during the festival. The ladies, both in the procession and watching in the crowds, look resplendent in their colourful clothes, bangles and henna tattoos.
The procession includes elephants, horses and camels all colourfully dressed, musical accompaniment , the married women, traditional folk singers and dancers and some garish war-like characters, all led by one of the band members on very tall stilts. At the rear of the procession comes the palanquin of Goddess Teej made of gold and silver. The procession walked through a throng of happy smiling faces, passing through various bazaars and markets to the nearby Chaugan Stadium.
We arrived before the festival officially started and persuaded the official in charge to let us go ‘backstage’ where we were able to photograph the band and performers preparing. In the large crowd, the mood was joyful and they welcomed the attention of our cameras. The weather conditions were perfect. An hour before sunset gave a warm glow on the yellow ochre walls and cast long shadows around the events.
Although our time spent photographing the festival barely exceeded an hour it was the most exciting and productive hour spent throughout our amazing journey through India.
p.s. Next year’s festival dates in Jaipur are : 26 Jul 2017 – 27 Jul 2017
Text © Colin Paul 2016