Hartalika vrat and puja, also known as Hartalika Teej, is conducted by women on Bhadrapada Shukla Tritiya. The festival is held in honour of Maa Parvati and Her friend who helped Her hide in the forest. It is generally considered to be an all-female festival. Hartalika is a combination of the words Harat (abduction) and Aalika (female friend).
Hindu beliefs say when Himalaya was worried for his daughter’s future, Narad Muni lied to him that he had brought Sri Hari Vishnu’s marriage proposal for Himalaya’s daughter Shailputri/Parvati. Himalaya was happy with Narad Muni’s proposal and agreed to get his daughter married to Bhagwan Vishnu.
Devi was upset with Her father’s choice and left for the forest with Her friend. Her friend took Devi Parvati to the thick forest. The two lived in a cave near the river where Devi undertook severe penance to please Mahadev. At long last, Bhagwan Shiva was pleased with Devi’s penance and promised to marry Her.
In the meanwhile, Himalaya was worried for his daughter. He thought that someone had abducted her and sent troops to search for her. Finally, the troops managed to locate Devi and Her friend. Himalaya asked his daughter to return home. Devi agreed to return home only if Himalaya would get Her married to Mahadev.
Himalaya agreed to get Shailputri married to Bhagwan Shiva. Due to this legend, this day is known as Hartalika as the friend of Maa Parvati took her to the thick forest which Himalaya considered the abduction of his daughter. As a friend of Devi Parvati helped her to get Bhagwan Shiva as Her husband, this day is also marked as the solidarity of friendship among female friends.
Hartalika puja is performed in the morning or at Pradosh-Kaal (time of Pradosh) which is considered an auspicious time to perform Shiva-Parvati puja. Mahadev and Devi are worshipped together on this day and the Vrat-Katha is narrated. Women get up early in the morning, get dressed in new clothes, and adorn themselves with various jewellery and make-up.
A mandap is made with banana leaves and a Shivling made of clay/sand or a Shiv-Parvati murti is placed inside it. After performing Ganesh Puja, shodashopachara puja of Bhagwan Shiva and Devi Parvati. The puja is concluded with Parvati Devi’s Anga puja and arati. Women stay awake all night and play games, and sing Bhajans, and songs.
(Featured Image Source: Aaj Tak)