Tihar / Dipawali festival
Tihar is the festival of lights, celebrated straight for five days. This is also the second most celebrated festive after the great Hindu Festival Dashain. Nepali people celebrate this festival as remembrance of the reunion of God of Death, “Yama” with his sister, “Yamuna”. It is believed that Yamuna first sent crow then dog and finally cow before meeting her brother by herself. And in the same way the tradition followed and Nepali people started celebrating Tihar by gathering and arranging get-together program with their brothers and sisters.
During this festive, five specially chosen colors are used by sister to put in the forehead of their brother. Yamuna is believed to be the inspiration behind this practice. Before putting colors “Tika” in forehead, brother are made to sit inside the mustard oil then put on the garland of Makhmali flowers “Mala” and Dubo “Cynodon Dactylon” Grass.
The five days of Tihar:
>>First Day - Kag Tihar (Crow Worship)
Tihar kicks-off with the worship of Kag(Crow). In this day, early in the morning crows are given with treats consisting of food items, rice, leaves and sweets. Nepali people have a culture of believing crows as the messenger of death and it is believed to bring good luck, if crows are worshipped.
>>Second Day - Kukur Tihar (Dog Worship Day)
Who don’t love dogs? And yes, Nepali people worship dogs in the second day of Tihar festival. Believed to be the most loyal friend of mankind, in the 2nd day of the festive dogs are worshiped by putting garland of flowers and tika “colors” in their forehead. And if you ask, why do Nepali worship dogs? Well, It is believed that dogs can sense the death coming and any endangers that future may follow.
>>Third Day - Gai Tihar (Cow Worship Day)
Gai (Cow) is the national animal of Nepal. And with the occasion of Tihar cows are also worshipped in the third day after Kukur Dihar. From this day on, you can sense the festive peaking up its pace. Cows are given delicious foods and green grass to feed on with garland of flower in the neck. Hindu followers regards cow as the mother and the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi.
The afternoon of this festive are the best time of the year as every houses are clean and they paint the floor with Red Mud (rato mato) and cow dung (Gobar). Special lines, decorations, designs and small symbols of footsteps are made with the red mud and dung that leads to their doorstep. It is believed that Lakshmi, goddess of wealth and prosperity will enter their house through this special line.
And even the nights are not sleepy at all during this festive. It is because Nepali’s has a long tradition of playing something known as “Bhailo”. What is basically means is that, people goes to other doorsteps/playground and then sing songs, dance and ask for money and/or food. Another specialty of Tihar is the use of fire crackers and you can see fireworks in the sky and in the ground as well.
>>Fourth Day - Goru Puja (Ox Worship Day)
Fourth Day is the Goru Puja which is followed by other two major Puja(celebration). First, Ox’s are worshipped by putting garland in their neck and giving foods and leaves. Another is the worshiping of Govardhan Mountain with cow dung. Every Hindu follower knows the importance of cow dung, still it the festive is known to be incomplete without the use cow dung in some form. In old days, cow dungs were used to light methane lights and polish houses. And in the Newar community, Mah Puja (Self-worship) is celebrated in the fourth day. They celebrate their self by decorating a specific place known as Mandap with Sayapatri (marigold flower), sweets, fruits and special Mala (thread) is kept. And the female member of their family gives them sagun (different fruits, foods and gifts).
The evening of Goru Puja is followed by the Deusi. Deusi is played just like Bhailo in the third day and today instead of asking for money and food by saying “Bhailo”, they say “Deusi”. Basically Bhailo were meant for Females and Deusi for Males but now-a-days male and females go in group without any distinction.
>>Fifth Day - Bhai Tika (Brother & Sister Celebration Day)
This is the special and last day of Tihar. Today all the sisters will be putting Sapta Rangi Tika ( like Red, Yellow, White, Blue and Green) in forehead of brothers and brothers will be giving money and/or clothes, foods and anything they can offer to their sisters. And in return sisters wishes for long life, prosperity and lots of wealth in her brother’s life and also give Shaguns. Shaguns consists of dry fruits like walnuts, hazelnuts and foods. Even there is culture of putting Panch Rangi Tika to sisters forehead and assure her to protect her till the end of life.
And for those who don’t have sisters go to their relative sisters and celebrate this festive. Also, the RaniPokhari Temple is open in this day for public. Those who are far away from their sister or are unable to get-together with their brothers or sister come here. This is the only day of the year where the temple is open for general public.