Hartalika Teej is a major festival which is celebrated on a day before Ganesh Chaturthi, which is the third day of the bright half of the North Indian Lunar month of Bhadrapud.
The term Hartalika is a combination of "harit" and "aalika" which means "abduction" and "female friend" respectively. According to the legend, Goddess Shailaputri, the daughter of Himalaya and an incarnation of Goddess Parvati, was supposed to marry Lord Vishnu at the suggestion of Narada. Upon knowing this, she told her friend about his father's wish whereupon her friend took her away into a thick forest to avoid the marriage between Lord Vishnu and Goddess Shailaputri against her wish.
Goddess Parvati was deeply in love with Lord Shiva who was unaware of her existence at that time. Hence, on the third day of the second half of the Hindu month of Bhadrapud, Goddess Parvati made a Shivlingam out of her hair and fasted and worshipped for several years rigorously in the Himalayas in order to impress him. Her efforts and devotion, impressed Lord Shiva and he gave his word to marry Goddess Parvati after realising the extent of her love. Eventually, Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva got married with her father's blessing and since then, the day is celebrated as Hartalika Teej as Goddess Parvati's female friend (aalika) abducted (harit) her to let her achieve her goal of marrying Lord Shiva.
On this day, womenfolk both old and young observe a fast for long and conjugal life of their husband. The fast is called "nishivasar nirjala vrat" as it proceeds without even drinking a drop of water. While married women pray for the prolonged healthy life of their husband and a blessed strong marriage like that of Shiva and Parvati, unmarried women fast in the hope of getting a good husband like Lord Shiva.
Women celebrate the festival of Hartalika Teej with great passion and excitement by applying mehndi on hands and feet, usually dressing up in green colored clothes, wearing jewellery and adorning themselves with bangles and a 'bindi' on their forehead. They try their utmost best to look beautiful at the time of Hartalika Teej.
In Rajasthan, an idol of Goddess Parvati clad in bright colorful clothes is taken out in a palanquin in a procession in the streets accompanied by singing, music and several elephants and camels.