The arrival of monsoon, brings in the festival of Teej, when women in colourful garments, are seen, singing on the swings, going backwards and forwards. There is a romantic appraisal of the nature in the season. This festival is dedicated to the Parvathi (Gowri). The consort of Siva. After severe austerities on this day, Parvathi had declared that anyone, who invokes her on this day, shall be blessed with her wishes. Since then this festival is celebrated by women, as an auspicious day, Parvathi’s image is taken out, fully adorned in a procession, in which only women participate.
This festival is very popular among women and is also celebrated by the farmers, who sing in chorus, in their lush green fields all around. There is a tradition of giving up three things by the women, on this occasion: (1) Deceiving the husband (2) Telling lies and misbehaviour and (3) Speaking ill of others. It is said that on this day Parvathi, after austerities, met Siva.
One of the prettiest and most widely customs in the North India, is the swinging in Srawan (July-August), when the rains are usually at their height, in honour of Krishna and Radha. It is done for luck apparently and seems to have an ulterior object. Everyone who wishes to be lucky during the coming year, must swing at least once during Srawan. Like most of the customs of this sort, it is almost entirely confined to women and children, whose swings may be seen hanging from the branches of trees in every garden, public place and along the roadside, by villages, bazaars and dwellings.
In Jaipur (Rajasthan) women dress themselves in red dress during this festival. Raja Suraj Mal of Bharatpur sacrificed his life on this day, in an effort to release some kidnapped women by the Pathans.
There is also a tradition of holding wrestling competitions assemblage in the villages, where competitors come from distances.
Connected with Teej festival, is the Doll Fair, carried on during the whole of Srawan, and with the same object of procuring good luck in the future. Customs differ in various parts as is the manner of conducting the fair. In Kangra (Himachal), even man, woman and child goes at least once to the riverside during Srawan, wearing a doll at the breast. The visit to the riverside must be on a Sunday, Tuesday or Thursday and must have been previously fixed on by a vow, a kind of private promise. On arrival at the river, the doll is thrown in the water. The superstition is that as the water cools the doll, so the mind will be cooled (eased) by the action during the year. There is a song sung on these occasions by the children having allusion to the advent of wagtails as a sign of the time for the Doll Fair having arrived. It is also sung in Srawan Teej swings: -
‘Fly, the wagtails so;
Mother, ‘tis the rainy month;
Yes, my darling, mother O
Fly, fly the wagtails so;
Mother, we must go and swing;
Yes, my darling, mother O’.
(Rose H A: Religious Life of Indian People 1917)