Sunday, August 30, 2009


Teej is a Bhutanese Hindu celebration for women. Though I grew up among Hindus, I had never heard of it until the women in my sewing classes invited me to come to the community center on a Saturday afternoon.I wore a sari Tim had bought for me, and my friends were impressed that I had put it on by myself. Of course, they immediately hustled me to the ladies' room to pin, tie, fold, and tuck my sari so that it would actually stay on !

Teej is a day when women wear the color of their marriage saris -- red! Lachhi on the front right and Saraswati behind her to the right are members of The Refugee Sewing Society. Don't they look pretty? When women dress for this celebration, they put flowers in their hair . . .beautiful beaded wedding necklaces around their necks . . . and, of course, their prettiest saris. Jasoda had arms full of bracelets, a lovely sari, and a little niece on her lap.Saris came in every shade of red -- and some just beyond it. Like orange . . . and purple!Teej involves a LOT of dancing. Women grouped by their apartment complexes came to the stage to dance. The older women performed a dance that explained how once they had been oppressed and forced to labor hard. But now they are free to do as they please! I won't deny that the food was a highlight for me! This plate holds a samosa, curry, pickle, chapati, rice, and many more things that were all delicious. Hari shared her mealtime with me.The women sat like bright birds around the foyer as they ate their late lunch. It was definitely yummy for one and all! I loved seeing my students with their children and mothers all enjoying this day together. The mother in this photo wore an intricately detailed gold nose ring. I had never seen anything like this before. She was so elegant. Though it was a day of festivities for women, I began to realize that the men were in the building, too. When I asked why, one of my friends said, "They come to serve us!" This festival has roots that go deeply into the foundation of Hinduism, including a day of fasting and another day of worshipping a stone or clay phallic symbol. Though my own faith teaches another path to God, I really treasured spending this very special time with my friends.

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