The Indian community in Christchurch celebrated the Indian festival of Teej with a special event called Hariyaali Teej on 30 July at Redwood Primary School.

It was a ladies-only event with free entry.

Women traditionally celebrate Haryali Teej and other variations of the Teej festival, to welcome the monsoon season with songs, dancing, and prayers. It is also celebrated in memory of the day Shiva formally accepted Parvati as his wife, the day the two were reunited. Parvati is also known as Teej mata.

The event, conceived and hosted by Shalini Gupta, had more than 200 women braving the rainy weather come and enjoy stunning performances put together by Christchurch Indian women from diverse backgrounds.

On being asked how she got the idea of the event, Gupta told us, “While a lot of big-ticket events are organised regularly, like Holi and Diwali, I felt a lot of small Indian festivals also need to be celebrated with the involvement of the community members. I am from UP, while my husband is from Rajasthan. Both of these Indian states celebrate Teej at a big level.

“In Christchurch, I came across various other women community members who also wanted to come together and celebrate this festival with music, dance, good food and lots of fun. So in 2018, we decided to host the event at a small scale with the participation of around 20-30 members.”

Local Community Board Member Dr Sunita Gautam, community leader Archna Tandon and Dr Geeta Singh were special guests.

Dr Gautam told Indian Weekender, “I always love to participate in Indian festivals as it gives me an opportunity to interact with the community members in a fun environment and get their informal feedback on the local issues. I also encourage ethnic communities to vote in the local elections as it is a right and responsibility.”

Tandon shared, “Every year I look forward to this event as Shalini and her team do a brilliant job of organising this beautiful fun-filled celebration. This year I enjoyed all the performances, and everyone was looking lovely in their traditional attires.”

This year, with performers ranging in age from 29 to 60, there were dance and musical performances by more than 10 groups. There were many heartfelt and entertaining performances that were appreciated by the audience. Several performers were performing for the first time on stage. There are a lot of women who feel comfortable and at ease when performing among women.

Gupta was helped by Jaskiran, Bhavna Agarwal, Parmjeet Kaur, Sushila Bisht, Harman Rana, Silky Sharma, Akshita Shivde and Isha Sidhu.

Gupta also expressed her satisfaction to see little kids participating in and appreciating the lesser-known Indian culture and festivals.

“It is a wonderful fun way to expose our youth to these festivals which are not celebrated at a bigger scale.”

The event was supported by A2Z Accounting, Arise Financial Services, Fanfare Event Hire and Bombay Bazaar.

The event also celebrates and provides encouragement to women entrepreneurs by hosting stalls where they can showcase and sell their wares.