Tihar – The Festival of Lights

Tihar – The Festival of Lights

Tihar is a five-day long festival celebrated by Hindus mostly from India and Nepal. It is also called the festival of lights because of Hindus clean and lights all night long during this festival. The houses illuminated with burning Diyo, an oil lamp made from clay.it is the second biggest Nepalese festival. Nowadays the modern electric lights are popular built the religious aspect still the same as it was a hundred years ago. Tihar is celebrated the five days of Tihar are dedicated to different religious and social aspect of Hindu religion. This festival is majorly dedicated to Hindu god Yama. He is the god of death. Hindu goddess Laxmi is worshipped in the third day of Tihar. She is the goddess of wealth and people celebrate this festival in the hope for financial success. The lights are most bright and colorful every day this day.

Not only Hindus but other Nepalese people celebrate the festival with bright lights and delicious foods. This festival is not only dedicated to gods but, the humans and animals. This festival gives importance to the environmental and human aspect in the society. This festival often falls mid-October and mid-November. In the Nepalese calendar, it mostly falls on the month of Kartik. The five days at this festival carry different religious importance and activities.

Day 1: Kaag Tihar

Kaag Tihartranslates to Tihar of crow. Crow is worshipped and fed during this day. Crow is taken as the messenger for Yama the god of death. The crow is believed to bring the message in the morning. People also believe that crow brings the message of rain, or coming guest to one’s home. People worship crow to make them happy and bring good news. It is believed that crow bringing bad news will bring bad omen with it. They are offered rice, fruits, and other grains during this day. Incense and light burn for the dark messenger throughout the country.

Day 2: Kukur Tihar

Kukur Tihartranslates to Tihar of dogs. Dogs are worshipped and fed this day. People offer garlands, tika and delicious food to dogs. This day cherishes the relation between dogs and human being that has been the same since ancient time. Dogs have played different roles in Hindu mythology. Dog’s is regarded as vehicle ofBhairava. In Hindu mythology, the Yama, god of death owns two guard dogs and the dogs watch over the gates of hell. They are believed to lead the deceased souls to the heaven. Dogs in this day are pampered and treated with devotion. From streets dogs to pets and even patrol dogs are presented with garlands, food and tika.

Day 3: Laxmi puja and gai Tihar

The morning of the third day of Tihar is gai Tihar or the Tihar of the cow. The cows are regarded as prosperity and wealth in Hindu mythology. Cow is also the national animal of Nepal. So, it is more religiously celebrated in Nepal than other countries. Cows are bathed in the morning and worshipped with tika and garlands. They are fed the grass and other delicacies. Priest also tie holy string in the tail of cows in this day.

The house and rooms are cleaned properly throughout the day. And in the evening people start to light Diya in gates and windows of the house. Beautiful patterns made using powdered color ‘Rangoli’ and flower scattered path is drawn toward the main entrance and room from the road, in the belief that goddess Laxmi will walk the path bringing prosperity. Goddess Laxmi is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. People make their houses and shops luminous as possible to attract the attention of goddess Laxmi. In cities like Kathmandu and Pokhara, the houses are light with bright and colorful electric lights. Children in this day, mostly girls form small groups and visit houses in their neighborhood to play bhailo. They sing and dance in front of the house and receive foods, fruits, sweets and money for their performance.

Day 4: Goru puja, Govardhan puja and Maha puja

People with different cultural background celebrate different things in the fourth day of Tihar. Just like in the third dayGoru or also known as an ox is worshipped in this day. Oxen have been the great help to the farmers since ancient time. They are still used in villages of Nepal to plough the field. In Nepal, where transport is hard and terrace farming is done farmer depend on oxen. This day oxen are worshipped with tika, garlands and fodder. People also worship cow dunk in this day. Cow dunk is also considered as the representative of Govardhan mountain. The cow dunk is used as the fertilizer in the fields, they are used to polish the floors of the traditional houses.

In this nightNewar community perform Maha puja. Maha puja is a worship to purifyand empower the soul of the person. Maha puja means the worship of the self. Different religious ceremony takes place in the house. Feast is also prepared for this day. The Nepalese kids and teens go out to play Deusi. They bring Maadal and other musical instruments to sing and dance. Deusi was primarily played by boys but nowadays they form mix team of both male and female to play Deusi and Bhailo

Day 5: Bhai Tika

It is the fifth and last day of Tihar. Bhai Tika means putting tika in brother’s forehead. Five colored tika is place in the brother’s and sister’s forehead. Red, yellow, green, blue and white makes pancharangi tika. Some community add black and grass color to make saptarangi tika. This tika is put by sisters in her brother’s forehead to ensure long life, prosperity and protection sisters receives from the brothers. Along with the tika, sister also make garlands from marigold and Makhamali flower which does not wither easily. Sisters also offer sweets and nuts to the brothers. Giving brothers new clothes is also popular. Then brother follow the same ritual, bow to them to ensure their protection and also provide money to their sister in return. This celebration enhances the relationship between brothers and sisters.

In Hindu mythology, god of death Yama received auspicious tika from his sister, goddess Yamuna on this day. The Yamuna put tika on his forehead, garlanded him and fed him special dishes. To make Yama Raj happy so their brothers have a long life, this festival is celebrated in a grand way together with family members.

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