Tihar also termed Deepawali and Yamapanchak is the second most popular festival of Nepal. Tihar is a five-day festival honouring the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance. The Tihar comes right after the biggest festival Dashain and is usually held in October or November. It is also called the Festival of Lights as people illuminate their homes with electric light, candles and oil lamps.
Tihar this year falls from November 2 to November 6, 2021. It is celebrated from the thirteenth day of “Krishna Paksha” until the second day of “Shukla Paksha” in the month of Kartik according to the ancient Hindu calendar.
Each day of the Tihar is dedicated to a different deity and has a unique significance. Tihar not only celebrates gods and humans but also animals such as crows, dogs, cows, ox etc.
Day 1: Kaag Tihar
The first day of Tihar is Kaag Tihar. People offer rice to the crows who are known as “death’s traveller.” The crows are believed to take a rest on this day as they are busy throughout the year. Ravens and crows cawing signify sadness and mourning in Hinduism. As a result, believers worship and feed sweet food to crows to alleviate sorrow and negativity in the following days.
Day 2: Kukur Tihar
The second day of Tihar is Kukur Tihar, which is dedicated to praising and worshipping the dogs. Dogs are considered “the gatekeepers of death” and Lord Yamaraj’s messengers. It is believed that dogs can bring the souls of the dead to paradise. People offer Tika and flower garlands to dogs along with a delicious meal.
Day 3: Laxmi Puja
The third day is known as Laxmi Puja and carries great significance. Cows are also worshipped on this day. A cow represents prosperity and wealth in Hinduism. People demonstrate their gratitude to cows by garlanding them and feeding them their best meal. On this particular day, Goddess Laxmi is said to enter the clean and decorated house. As a result, people clean their homes and make Rangoli at the main entrance to welcome her and light the path with oil lamps and candles to guide her the way. This ritual can be seen as a request for the “Goddess Laxmi” to return to earth.
Nepalis worship Goddess Laxmi in the evening to welcome prosperity, good fortune and well-being. Girls play “Bhaili” by singing and dancing to traditional Nepali songs and visiting the neighbours’ homes. Apart from that, the night of this day is worth viewing because we can see lights all around Nepal, providing breathtaking sights.
Day 4: Govardhan Puja
The fourth day of the Tihar festival is known as Govardhan puja, Goru Tihar, or maha puja, and it is celebrated according to the people’s backgrounds. People worship ox as they are the source of draft power for farmers for ploughing. Boys play “Deushi” by visiting different houses, singing and dancing.
This day is also known as Maha Puja, which commemorates the Newari New Year. Mha Puja signifies “worship of the self” in Newari, and it honours one’s inner soul. The event heralds an auspicious start to the New Year and bestows riches and longevity on all who take part. At the end of the ceremony, the family members partake of a feast that includes the famous Newari delicacy “Samay Baji”.
Day 5: Bhai Tika
The last day of the Tihar festival is Bhai Tika. On this day, brothers and sisters reunite to put seven-colour tika, confer blessings, exchange gifts and money. This celebration is dedicated to strengthening the bond between brothers and sisters.
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