After celebrating the main festival “Dashain” in Nepal, Tihar is the second main festival of Nepal which is also called the day of lights. In this festival people use to sing, dance, do fireworks and many fun things. So what is Tihar? have a look down below:
Tihar is the festival of lights which is also known as Deepawali and Yama Panchak in Nepal and Dewali in India. This festival is celebrated for five days by Hindus of Nepal and India and always falls in the month of Oct or Nov.
It is one of the most important festivals as it shows huge contribution not only to humans and god but also to animals that maintain an intimate relationship with humans i.e. crow, dog, ox, and cow. Therefore, Tihar represents the angelic attachment between humans and other animals.
How Tihar festival is celebrated in Nepal?
According to Bikram Samvat (BS) calendar, the festival begins with Kaag (crow) Tihar in Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha and ends on the day of Bhai Tika in Dwitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha every year.
Similarly, Tihar is also known as the second greatest festival of Nepalese people after Dashain. As Tihar is the festival of lights, the entire village or city in Nepal looks like a sparkling diamond from the top. Likewise, fireworks are also the main attraction of the Tihar festival.
As for the Lights, it is the traditional Nepali lamps made of clay which are filled with oil and twisted pieces of cotton are dipped in the lamp of clay to light it. Likewise, a different type of colorful light bulb is also displayed outside of the house to make the night more beautiful.
During this festival, Nepalese people clean their houses, gardens, and rooms. Tihar is celebrated for five-day worshiping gods and animals like crows, cows, dogs, and goddess Laxmi, Govardhan as follows;
Day 1: Kaag (Crow) Tihar
It is the first day of Tihar where crows are worshipped by Nepalese peoples. And, it is believed that the sound of crow (cawing) symbolize as sadness and grief in Hinduism as per Sanskrit. Therefore, on this day, people offer crow some sweets and other dishes to turn away sorrow and death. Crow is also considered as the messenger for bad or good news in the Hindu religion.
Day 2: Kukur (Dog) Tihar
Kukur Tihar is the second day of Tihar also known as Dog festival. In this day dogs are worshipped with tika, garland, and food to cherish the relationship between humans and dogs.
The dog has special value in Hindu Mythology. According to Mahabharata Lord Shiva had a dog as his Vahan (Vehicle). Likewise, the God of death Yama is also believed to have two guard dogs with four eyes each. Also, on the basis of the Hindu concept, the dogs are said to watch over the gates of Hell. Therefore, Dogs are worshipped in this day to nullify all the evil effects like sudden death, theft and going to hell.
Day 3: Gai (Cow) Tihar
On the third day of Tihar, cows are worshipped early in the morning because Cow signifies prosperity and wealth in Hinduism. Likewise, its milk, dung even urine is being used for purification purposes from ancient times till now. On this day, the house is cleaned and are decorated with garlands of Marigold and Gomphrena globose flowers which are also known as Saya Patri and Makhamali flowers in the Nepali language respectively.
After that, in the evening the Goddess of wealth; Laxmi is worshipped by lighting (oil lamps) Diyo or candles on doorways and windows to welcome prosperity and well-being. It is also believed that Goddess Laxmi visits those clean houses which are decorated with more Diyos or candles.
On this day Deusi Bhailo is also played by girls and boys with lights and fireworks which is the main tradition of Tihar. While playing Deusi Bhailo, girls and boys enjoy dancing singing and visits all the houses in the neighborhood with musical instruments all night giving blessing houses with prosperity. And in return house owner offers fruits, money, and Selroti (made of rice flour and sugar) as a tradition of Nepal. However, Deusi is sung by boys and Bhailo is sung by girls.
Deusire word is made of two words “Deu” which means to give and “Sire” is the Sanskrit word for the “head”. However, the origin of tradition Deusi Bhailo is not clear yet. But it is believed that the song sang while playing Deusi-Bhailo indicates that it is related to King Mahabali. On the basis of this Deusire, it means to offer one’s head for the great cause.
As claimed by Puranas, King Bali offered his own head to Vamana who is known as the fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The tales start when King Bali was performing the Ashwamedha Yajna (devotion, worships, and offering) and when Vamana asked Bali for land that would equal three long steps he takes. At that time King Bali was known as giving alms to anyone who visits his palace. So, he didn’t deny Vamana and accepted his demand. But Vamana covered the whole universe with two steps and asked King Bali where he should place his third step. Therefore to honor his words to give Vamana what he asked: King Bali offered his own head. This day was in the month of Kartik.
Similarly, after seeing his devotion to Lord Vishnu, he then blessed him and raised him to the supreme position in heaven. So, based on this tale there is a belief that if one donates something in this month it will do good to the donator and that is why people donate foods, money etc in desi-Bhailo.
Day 4: Govardhan Puja
The fourth day of Tihar is called Govardhan Puja. It is celebrated in three different pujas depending on people’s cultural backgrounds. However, Govardhan is the name of the mountain according to the tale and it was the main source of food. And the Govardhan Pooja is celebrated as follows:
Goru (Ox) Puja
On this day, Ox is worshipped by giving different foods to it. It is also known as Govardhan Puja.
People who follow Vaishnavism perform Govardhan Puja, it is mainly worshipped towards Govardhan mountain. According to myth, on this day God Sri Krishna lifted the Govardhan Hill to provide shelter from torrential rains to the village. And it was the Lord Indra who was causing floods and rain in village because Lord Krishna brainwashed the villagers. Likewise, Govardhan also means worshipping Lord Krishna.
In this puja, devotees prepare and offer a large amount of vegetarian food to show gratitude towards Lord Krishna.
Mha Puja (Self Worship)
Additionally, on this day the people of the Newar community perform Maha Puja on the night. This day is also the beginning of the new Nepal Sambat Calendar year and is celebrated by Newari People mostly.
Day 5: Bhai Tika (worship of Brother)
The last and fifth day of Tihar is called Bhai Tika. In this day sisters apply tika to the foreheads of their brothers. The tradition to apply tika is to give blessings to brothers for long life, happy life and to protect them from sudden death. Likewise, Bhai means “brother” where sisters pray for them.
It is also believed that God of Death Yamraj visited his sister Goddess Yamuna. On this day Goddess Yamuna prepared delicious foods and garland for Yamraj. Also, Goddess Yamuna applied auspicious tika on his forehead. Goddess Yamuna and Yamraj ate food together and exchanged gifts with each other. After that Yamraj announced that day as “anyone who receives tika from his sister on that day will never die.”
Same as Goddess Yamuna and Yamraj brother and sister follow the same rituals till now. This ritual is practiced whether the brother is younger or older than the sister. This festival strengthens the relationship between brothers and sisters and is one of the best festivals in Nepal.