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Nepal

Catholic women mix at Hindu festival

Praying, fasting and dancing for a husband presents dilemma for some

Prakash Khadka, Kathmandu

Prakash Khadka, Kathmandu

Published: September 01, 2011 09:46 AM GMT

Updated: September 01, 2011 09:48 AM GMT

Catholic women mix at Hindu festival
Women celebrating the festival

Catholic women got into the festive spirit yesterday by joining in national celebrations at the start of an annual three-day Hindu festival for women. In Kathmandu, more than 300,000 women descended on Pashupati temple to pay their respects to the Hindu God Shiva, as the Haritlika Teej festival got under way. Likewise, women from all over the country attended local Shiva temples before giving public singing and dancing performances. Married women also pray for long life for their spouses, while single women pray in the hope of getting a good husband. The festival, which commemorates the marriage of the goddess Parvati with Lord Shiva allows women to dress up in vibrant red saris and wear traditional jewelry and involves feasting and a period of rigid fasting. Women eat dar (rice with ghee) the day before they fast for their husbands on the festival’s main day. On the last day they bathe in red mud to purify themselves from their sins. Catholic women also joined in the festivities yesterday. “I wore a red sari and danced with my aunties and other cousins who are Hindu,’’ Tara Pokhrel said. “Many Catholic women like to celebrate Teej in Nepal but I did not fast as the Hindu faith directs," she added. For many Christian’s the practice of fasting presents an awkward dilemma according to Rupa Rai, who heads Caritas Nepal’s women’s desk. Some women and girls are culturally bound to fast because of Hindu family ties, but for them to do so in the Teej is wrong," she said. “Instead of fasting they should simply pray to our Lord for wisdom and knowledge, for a good life partner or both husband and wife should pray for each-other. That would be more appropriate,” she added.

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