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13 November 2014

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Teeyan in Southall

Women performing in "Teeyan" in Southall

Happy Clapping

Ferocious showers didn't stop over 500 women attending the Panjabi festival "Teeyan" in Southall.

"Teeyan" a Panjabi term for women, is a festival that originated in Panjab, a state in both India and Pakistan.  A festival full of song and dance, Teeyan was and still is a very popular event.

In the subcontinent, many Panjabi women would have spent the year working on fields or maintaining buffalo as well as rearing their children. The Indian month of Savan (mid July -Aug) provided the opportunity for these women to return to their maternal homes for respite. 

Once having been reunited with friends and family the women would sing in couplets 'boliyan' and perform giddha (clapping dance) with great vigour.

For some women the festival was not just about expressing their happiness but also about sharing their troubles. At a time when reporting cases of abuse and rape was considered dishonourable, women would convey their stories through this musical poetry.

Amarjit Khera one of the founding members of the Panjabi centre says the festival was a very cathartic experience for women who had suffered traumatic experiences. She says: 

"I think this was the way they dealt with [experiences of] being abused in their teens, or rape. [It was a way] of releasing their anger and frustration. Divorce was taboo and there were no organisations where women could go for help."

Teeyan in London

In London the festival is a more celebratory affair organised by the Panjabi Centre in Southall. Women of all ages get together, dress up and create music using their hands, feet and vocal chords!

Some do share stories of the struggles they have had to face in England, but for most, this women only event is an opportunity to sing and dance in a safe and homely environment. 

Pammi Thind has been attending the Teeyan festival since 2002, for her it is a chance to meet other women from Panjab. Last year she met three long lost friends from her childhood, women she had not seen for ten years. She says:

"Women enjoy reminiscing about their days in Panjab and enjoy trying to track down people from their village. It also helps keeps the tradition alive, inform the next generation and tell them what the festival meant to people in Panjab. "

email ramaa.sharma@bbc.co.uk

last updated: 15/08/2008 at 16:39
created: 08/08/2008

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