Teej celebrations are entertainment to women, but what do men expect?
Komal Oli is a funny person. People frolicking around her as she puts on her lively numbers might not say that outright, but I genuinely feel that this folk singer must have had some ideas that she is a funny person. And why shouldn’t she? After all, her song Poila Jana Pam (Let me elope) pushed her career to a transcending height—but people not only danced to it, but had a grin from ear to ear or even some chuckles for the lyrics.
Teej celebrations do bring the likes of Oli in the picture. When I was little, and had very little idea of what the festival was about, the only mental picture I used to have was of middle-aged women, clad tip to toe in blood red clothing, who danced till their belly bounced. Not that I have any qualms over good ol’ fashioned belly bouncing, for let’s face it—belly bouncing is quite as interesting as belly dancing! But it always made me feel left out.
Mothers, grannies, sisters, aunts, friends - they always get to have so much fun. And what’s in store for a boy like me? My father always used to burn food whenever he cooked, you see! And Teej meant, it was a holiday for my mother—oh, how I craved her cooking.
Let’s not bring in any elements of feminism here, for feminists have always maintained that Teej is “women’s rights” and anything against it holds no ground, or let men not tread across the marked territory. I advocate against bringing in any political agenda in a religious festivity. Women’s day, Teej or any other politicized day dedicated to women avoids men’s inclusion altogether.
Standing along the ever-so-popular Oli are singers Sunita Dulal, Manju Thapa, Manju Mahat, Manju Paudel (please don’t get the idea that all Manjus sing Teej songs though), Parvati Rai, Radhika Hamal, Gayatri Thapa and Jyoti Magar. To not see one of these faces as we flick through tens of Nepali channels during Teej, or at least starting from two weeks prior to Teej, would be like South Asian food without curry masala and chili powder. Even for men, Teej without vermillion red color in the streets, without extra juvenile belly bouncing, and of course, ambiguous lyrics would mean that Teej is baseless.
Personally, I envy Teej celebration. I love saree, and why wouldn’t I? Try as much as Westerners may, they cannot come up with a dress as sexy as a saree. Now imagine women of all shapes and sizes letting go of their otherwise demure stature and dancing to the tunes of songs that, like I previously mentioned, have double entendres splattered all over the lyrics. What’s there not to like or even get addicted to? Men, by any chance if you have not known about Teej celebration and happen to come across this article, then you should know—Nepali Hindu culture does not provide us poor male demographics with any such an extravagant festival. Poor us!
But the controversy over Teej aside, femininity in a saree aside, and of course the wild side of the festivities aside, Teej is a huge contribution to Nepali folk music. In Nepali language, the word for such lyrical usage is uttaulo, which translates to obscene. I personally don’t like this translation as uttaulo comes with an age-tag. It’s much like the MPAA rating given for Hollywood films. Uttaulo might as well receive a PG-13 rating (if rated by MPAA) but would definitely not (never, that is) get the tag of “Mature Content, Parental Advisory”. Lyrical usage by Oli and in recent times Jyoti Magar (who is dubbed as Uttaulo Singer) have contributed to the experiments in Nepali folk music, trying to bring in elements of both art and freedom with their songs. !