Two weeks ago I was honored to be invited to the Teej Festival at the Hindu Buddhist Spiritual Center in Clarkston, GA. Clarkston is a small town in the metropolitan Atlanta region which has become home to refugees from 40 different countries. The first refugees from Bhutan arrived in 1991 and today there is a vibrant Bhutanese community living in Clarkston and the surrounding area.
The Teej Festival is a three-day women’s festival of fasting and feasting that celebrates marital happiness and the health of the family. Single women pray for good husbands. The women come together in their finest attire to honor and pray to their deities and to sing and dance. In the center of the circle in the above image are the offerings of food, money, fabric, flowers and other symbolic objects that are given to please and thank the gods. The priest is a central figure during this ceremony and the colored rice on his forehead has been placed there by all the women to offer their thanks.
I was not sure how I would be received when I walked into the Spiritual Center for I did not know most of the people present and I did not speak their language. I was welcomed very warmly and to my surprise they all wanted me to photograph and asked me to take their portraits. I photographed to my heart’s content. It was a privilege to meet such beautiful people and witness such a moving celebration.