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Women's holiday

Wedneday was a holiday in Nepal. Unique thing about the holiday is that it is a holiday set aside only for women – the men go to work. Our Neplali language lecturer explained to us that this week will witness two special holidays for women, the first us teej which involves fasting and feasting.

Teej" is the fasting festival for women. It takes place in August or early September. The festival is a three-day long celebration that combines sumptuous feasts as well as rigid fasting. Through this religious fasting, hindu women pray for marital bliss, well being of their spouse and children and purification of their own body and soul.

The second is a day when women go and visit their mother’s homes. In Nepal, it is a custom that when you get married you stay with your mother in-law and are discouraged from visiting your mother’s home. So this holiday is a special day for married women to go visit their mothers and share the joys/challenges of living with your mother in law. It is also a day to celebrate your woman hood by thanking God for giving you the power to be able to give birth. On such occasions, women dress in red saris.

Are there any special rules that dictate the relationships between married women and their in-laws?

Do you have any special holidays dedicated to women in your culture?

Comments

usha kc's picture

YAOtieno sisiter, realy

YAOtieno sisiter, realy feeling good to see your article about Nepalese Hindu women's festival "TIJ".Tij festival is specially for women and girls . As you mentioned all girls and women wear red color's attire and their jeweleries. They take fast whole day even with out water and after worshipping Lord Shiva and washing husband's feet then they take food.
I am also Hindu woman but I never ever take fasting of TIj. when I was child used to see all those when my mom performed all as rules and I enjoyed to see . Actually it should be done after first mensuration. But I never did it though I respect my culture.

Today, Friday also holiday for women and girls it's last day of TIJ. In Hindu culture mensuration is taken as sin of previous birth. Touching husband during mensuration period is not allowed so today's fasting is to be purified if unknowingly husband is touched. I am in oppositon of this rules.
Tij fasting mainly is for husband's progress and long life. After taking fasting wife should wash husband's toes and drink the water (goda ko paani khane) used for washing his toes.

Thesse days, Tij festival is celebrated from before one month. It's have been just as fashion show, showing up own jewelery and expensive atire. culture has been changed in to compettion of fashion .It's not so good but just wastage of money and time. and only rich family can celabrated in this way.

Anyway whatever is the matter, it's festival of sisters,mothers, aunts and finally it's festival of we women/girls.
cheers!!

YAOtieno's picture

Thanks

Dear Usha,

Thanks for the additional information. I am quite surprised to learn about the purification bit where the woman has to drink the water used to wash the husband legs. It is quite disturbing...

On the celebrations, its a pity when we let commercialization take over and we use festivals to :show off" rather than celebrate culture...

I am grateful for those who keep it simple.

Thanks for your comment

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

ansupokharel's picture

great to hear

I totally agree with usha sister, its really so good to hear something about our own culture!

Anisha Pokharel

YAOtieno's picture

Thanks Sister....

Thanks Anisha,

What may be common to one person looks very interesting to a visitor...Nepal is full of so many interesting cultures. I encourage you to share with the sisters here

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NMEZI SYBIL's picture

Hi

This is great for great women in Napel.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women is progress to the Nation

YAOtieno's picture

sure

You can say it again Nmezi!

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

NMEZI SYBIL's picture

Hi

This is great for great women in Napel.

Sexual and Reproductive Rights of Women is progress to the Nation

Funke Arogundade's picture

interesting

this is quite interesting that a day could be chosen for women to be themselves. quite nice, but why one day out of 365 days in a year. but half a loaf of bread is better than none. mothers day in Nigeria is spent like any other day, except for the church thanksgiving service. In my part of the world, most women would rather not celebrate any special day if it meant going to spend the day with the dreaded mother in laws.

Celine's picture

YAOtieno and Usha

Thank you YAOtieno for informative writing on TIJ women's festival in Nepal and to Usha for further enlightenment. It is a good thing that some aspects of culture are changing with time as Usha said. A situation where a woman is subjected by culture to wash the feet of the husband and drink the dirty water is bad and symbolic. The woman's health is endangered by drinking the water. It symbolizes worship and subjugation as the husband is idolized. Women, through women movements in various countries should rise up to condemn practice of cultures that are inimical to women.
At one stage in my Igbo culture in Nigeria, women who lost their husbands (widows) are prime suspects on the death of their husbands. When the woman says she is not responsible, some families wash the body of the dead man and make the widow drink the water. If she dies within a specified time, she is guilty but if she doesn't, she is innocent! But today, such practices are getting eroded in Igbo societies. Efforts are made by women groups using sensitization and advocacy to get rid of such cultures.

In my culture there was what my mom called 'Ime chi', which she explained as a day when women (mothers) are celebrated by their children, sons-in-law, grand-children and relations. She will cook varieties of food. The relations, will come from far and near with gifts of clothes, fish, tubers of yam, etc. They will spend the whole day with her celebrating her motherhood. There is no official holiday attached to it.

Issues surrounding relationships between married women and mothers-in-law are most times complex. In all traditions in Nigeria, mothers tend to overprotect their sons that they lack confidence on the ability of daughters-in-law to take proper care of the sons. Again, when a man gets married, the tendency is that he shifts his attention from the mother and siblings to the wife and children, which I think is natural. When this happens, some mothers point accusing fingers on the daughter-in-law for diverting the husband's attention. On the other hand, some daughters-in-law will see mother-in-law as number 1 obstruction in enjoying their marriages. Such married women will not allow the husband to extend his care to the mother, hence some soar relationships between married women and mother-in-laws.

Celine

YAOtieno's picture

Ime Ichi

Hi Celine,

I quit agree with your comments on the endangerment of women's health both in Tij and in the case of widows being forced to drink water that has been used to clean their husbands. Glad some of such practices are being eroded.

I quite like the Ime Ichi celebration of motherhood - especially the gifts part! yeah!

Thanks for sharing.

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

sunbo55's picture

Happy celebration.

Happy celebration. Thank you for shearing this with us. We do not have special holiday for women in Nigeria and there is no restriction on the number of visits you made to your mother or father after marriage.

YAOtieno's picture

Thanks Sunboo

Thanks for your comments Sunboo.

There are no restrictions on such visits in Kenya either, but generally one is not expected to make such visits everyday...:-)

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usha kc's picture

Dear sisters YAOteeno,Ansu,

Dear sisters YAOteeno,Ansu, Celine and all so nice to have talks on own culture.
Celine sis you mentioned so correctly that In Tij festival its symbolic meaning of oppression of woman by man. If woman can take fast for her husband's long life then why not men do same for wife!!!!!
I wonder, if women get impure if she touches her husband during mensuration then why not husband become impure!!!!!
all the religion,culture are patriarchial valued .
lets raise our voice together against such practices!!

choirgirl's picture

Thank you

Dear all,
I've carefully read your posts, and what it seems to me is that in my country, Italy, most women have completely lost the sense of how lucky we are for being women, thus forgetting what it means to celebrate womanhood.
I will tell you why.
I've seen in Nepal and Nigeria there is a practice to drink the water which was used to clean the husband. We do not have (fortunately?) any rituals of this kind, and are not obliged to show subjection to our husbands, except for everyday natural respect, which is however mutual in a couple.
We do have celebrations for women, one is the Mother's day in which sons and daughters celebrate their mothers, and the other is the Woman's day which is a commemoration of a tragic fact happened in 1908 when a group of women on strike in a factory died in a fire after being imprisoned by their employer. It is also celebrated in the US, where the fact actually happened.
In 2011 the tragic event has almost completely gone into oblivion, and the Woman's day has become a mere occasion for women to go clubbing for watching gorgeous guys having streap-tease...quite discouraging, isn't it?
So the point is: we are not obliged to be subjugated, we have lost the sense of femininity intended as the gift of fertility, love, strength and passion....does that mean being emancipated? Does it mean having reached equality?
Not at all.
Most women have lost the sense of what being a woman is.
In time, there has been a dramatic distortion of the menaing of womanhood. Nowadays women want to prevail on men (being "equal" is not enough to them!), they want to show out their freedom only by going clubbing and having a super active sexual life.
Destortion of feminism. Most women have forgotten what it is to have a right, because they did not fight to get it, so I say, they shoul be re-educated to use their nature properly. They humiliate themselves and the women who fought for them as well.
Personally, I am only 26 and I wasn't ther either during the struggle for the voting right or abortion, and still I try everyday of my life to renew that message: being a woman is much more than going dancing on the Woman's day. This is why I do not accept flowers and do not celebrate on those occations. I am a woman everyday, and I show it, not once a year, but every hour of my life.
And my man celebrates me too. He tells me he loves me everyday, he respects me, and makes me feel important. I do the same. This is devotion, this is equality to me, and this is the way I will teach my son to celebrate his woman.

Maria

YAOtieno's picture

Sensible

Hi Choir girl,

Thanks for taking the time to read and respond to the discussions here.

I have heard about mother's day and it is actually celebrated in Kenya - mostly in the urban centers i.,e Nairobi and especially by the well elite of the community. It is not actually marked as a holiday because people still go to work and perform their normal duties on that day. However, I had no idea of how the events that brought about the celebration of that day. Indeed it was a tragic event. Thanks for enlightening us.

I agree with alot of your points women should appreciate their femininity and not try ti prove they are eqaul by trying to act ass men. At some point we may have lost focus in what the struggle was all about - "you put it very well in this line - Most women have forgotten what it is to have a right, because they did not fight to get it, so I say, they shoul be re-educated to use their nature properly"

Lastly I am happy for you - You have a man who celebrates you and your son has a good role model to emulate. I think that at some point, men "behave badly"because bad misbehavior is all they ever saw when growing up.

I wonder what others think....

Keep writing,

Cheers,

Y

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choirgirl's picture

Exactely YAOtieno

You got it girl, you perfectly got it!
Adults are their children's role model: they reproduce the habits and attitudes they grow up with. That's why I believe it is fundamental to work with children beside adults.

Children do not act alone, their behaviour is influenced by the environment, so when a child behaves bad, we should refer to adults around and the community.

Thank you for pointing this out!

Maria

Okeny-Lucia's picture

Culture defines us!

Wow Usha,
It is a culture shock for me,however that is what makes each culture unique and remain reserved for generation after generation.
I have lived among the Sudanese and Ugandans.There culture is rich.The Uganda women have deep respect for their husbands,and you will feel proud to be woman enough,after kneeling down to give service to your husband.Other East Africans call it slavery ,however you should see the beauty and the agility a woman will undergo to maintain the marital bond by kneeling to give out food and drink,and while kneeling would inquire the husband,s day activity.Thereafter the husband has the duty to bless the wife for being strong ,waiting for his arrival and even nourishing the body with food.That is the strength of a woman,trying to bring peace reduce conflict within the inlaws,becuase you are no longer your mama,s child.

Usha ,YAOteeno,this culture should be preserved it is what deefines Nepali women from the Pakistani,Indian Punjabi and all that.
Great weekend

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

YAOtieno's picture

Culture is dynamic

Hi Lucia,

I understand what you mean when talking about the Uganda women and how Kenayn men wish we could do the same.

I am in agreement with you that culture should be preserved...indeed it is our heritage. However, we shouldn't encourage practices that would put another persons health at risk. we can keep the good and get alternatives to replace the not so healthy- and that's why culture is dynamic ...What do you think?

A candle looses nothing my lighting another

usha kc's picture

Dear Lucia,, thank you for

Dear Lucia,, thank you for comments . Me too respect my culture, and it should be presurved. As sister YAo said,,in the name of culture we should not encourage to conserve such stereotype .
we should not follow blindly if that's harmfull in any aspect.
If there is mutual respect,mutual praying, mutual worship then it's ok .

Hey,
That is very right.Yes the harmful culture should be conveyed to the community with scientific evidence so that people dont suffer unnecessarily.
goodevening

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

Hey,
That is very right.Yes the harmful culture should be conveyed to the community with scientific evidence so that people dont suffer unnecessarily.
goodevening

Lucia Buyanza
Reproductive Health

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