After celebrating the main festival “Dashain” in Nepal, the Tihar festival is the second main festival of Nepal which is also called the “Light Festival”. In this festival, people sing, dance, do fireworks, and enjoy with their families. Even though the families have been living seperatily, the festival like Tihar, Dashain and other big festival bring the family together which indeed brings the light upon the family like Tihar.
So, what’s the main reason for celebrating Tihar festivals? How do Nepali people celebrate Tihar festival? Is it similar to Diwali or Christmas?
Well, we will cover as much as we can in this blog for you.
What is the reason to celebrate Tihar?
The famous myth for the celebration of Tihar is that people started to follow the rituals of Yamuna-the sister of Yama also known as the “God of Death”.
Living apart from each other, it was hard for the Yamuna to meet her brother Yama. Desperate to meet her brother, Yamuna use to send message through crow which is also called the messenger of death. So, one day Yama finally came to meet his sister Yamuna which was the hapiest day for Yamuna.
To celebrate the upcoming of her brother Yama, Yamuna prepared five colored tikas, flowers and fruits. The ritual started circling Yama putting the mustard oil in ear, hair while carrying the flowers, Dubo (Cynodon Dactylon), water while lighting up a diyo(clay pot containing the oil and wet cotton).
Impressed with the ritual, it is beleived that whoever follows the rituals will have a blessing from the Yama for long life and wealth.
Thus, every year, sister’s follow the rituals for the better life, long life and wealth for their brother while brother worship sisters.
Why Tihar is called festivals of lights?
Tihar is the festival of lights and 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.
During Tihar, houses will be decorated with different colorful lights, candals as well as diyo(clay pot with oil and cotton). During the night the atmosphere suddenly change and the house starts to glow brighter which is why Tihar is also called the festivals of lights.
Similarly, it is one of the most important festivals as it shows a 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, the Tihar festival represents the angelic attachment between humans and other animals.
How to celebrate the Tihar festival?
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. (Oct or Nov)
You can say that Tihar is the festival of lights where the entire village or city in Nepal looks like a sparkling diamond from the top. The main reason is the fireworks which are the main attraction of the Tihar festival.
You can also see the burning candels or lights which is the traditional Nepali lamps made of clay that are filled with oil and twisted pieces of cotton that is 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 and celebrate Tihar for five-day worshiping gods and animals like crows, cows, dogs, and goddess Laxmi, Govardhan as follows:
Day 1 of Tihar- Kaag (Crow) Festival:
Crow festival is the first day of Tihar where crows are worshipped by Nepalese peoples.
It is believed that the sound of crow (cawing) symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism as per Sanskrit. Therefore, on this day, people offer some sweets and other dishes to Crow to turn away our sorrow and death. Crow is also considered as the messenger for bad or good news in the Hindu religion.
Day 2 of Tihar- Kukur (Dog) Festival:
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.
Also, it is said that the dog has special value in Hindu Mythology. According to Mahabharata Lord Shiva(Hindu God) had a dog as his Vahan (carrier). 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 of Tihar- Gai (Cow) Festival
On the third day of Tihar, cows are worshipped early in the morning because Cow signifies prosperity and wealth in Hinduism.
Likewise, the cow milk, cow dung, and even urine are used for purification purposes from ancient times till now in Nepal. On this day, the houses are 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 (traditional song) 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 blessings to houses with prosperity.
In return, the 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.
History of Deusi-Bhailo traditional song:
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) which would make him immortal. Therefore, when Vamana (disguise of Lord Vishnu) asked Bali for land that would equal three long steps he takes, King Bali accepted it. 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 of Tihar- 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 which 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 the 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 of Tihar- 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.
So, if you are interested to celebrate the way of Nepali tradition then contact us. We can fill you with new experiences and happiness.