After Dashain, Tihar is the second-biggest celebration in Nepal, and it is a three-day long national holiday throughout Nepal. Tihar Festival, also known as Dipawoli (light festival) in some part of Nepal is widely celebrated throughout the country.
Tihar is celebrated right after Dashain Festival in the month of October. Tihar in general falls towards the end of October. The dates fluctuates as Nepalese has their own calendar. Feel free to ask the dates of Tihar this year.
Tihar is also the festival of brothers-sisters. The event is unique in that it honor not only the gods but also creatures like crows, cows, and dogs that have coexisted with humans for a long time.
During the festival, The Lord Yama, the god of death is worshiped for his impartial decision-making in regard to deaths. Similarly, the goddess of riches, Lakshmi, who is said to have been born on Tihar, is worshiped in order to be prosperous and wealthy in life.
The history of Tihar
There are numerous tales concerning the Tihar festivity. One of the well-known tales relating to the festival of Tihar is about the god of death Yama and his sister Yamuna. For a very long time, Yama had avoided his sister. In order to meet him, his sister got numbers of people to go to him and beg him to pay her a visit. At the conclusion, she went to meet her brother herself after sending the crow, dog, and ox.
She offered him flowers and five different colored tikas as a form of worship. Lord Yamaraj was instructed not to enter the circle that Yamuna had created with the Makhmali Mala , Dubo Grass , and mustard oil. This same has been followed as on now as rituals while celebrating the Tihar Festival.
What are the main events around Tihar?
As Tihar is festival of lights, decorating houses is first and major event where celebration starts. The spreading of happiness and sharing joy with the dancing, singing, and gambling, etc. continues throughout the festival days.
Animals like crows, dogs, cows, and ox are also worshiped during this event. On the floor of living rooms or courtyards, people draw Rangoli to beautify the place creating the positive energy and warding off bad-luck.
How is tihar celebrated? Day by Day details of this festival
Day one: Kag Tihar (Worshiping Crow)
Crows are worshiped and fed early in the morning on the first day of Tihar. People frequently offer various foods for crows to eat. The crow is regarded as the messenger of death. People think that the crow delivers the morning messages to the house. Wishing the good luck, people worship it to avoid bad message of detah sent by Yamaraj (the god of death).
Day two: Kukur tihar (Worshiping Dog)
The most faithful companion of mankind, Dog is honored on the second day of Tihar. By placing a crimson colored tika on the dog’s forehead and a garland around his neck and offering the food, Kukur Tihar is celebrated. In general, people worship both pet & stray dogs.
Third day: Laxmi and Gai (cow) Puja
The third day’s morning is known as Gai (cow) Tihar. Hinduism places a special emphasis on the cow, which is revered as a sacred animal. The cow is a symbol of prosperity since it is the goddess of wealth Lakshmi’s vahana. Cow has been long connected with human history by feeding us milk – that is why Cow is specailly worshiped in the day.
Fourth day: Mah (aatma or self) Puja and GoruTihar (Govardhanparbatko Puja)
Govardhan Puja, Mha Puja (celebrated only in Newar community), and Goru Tihar are the names given to the fourth day of the Tihar festival.
The day begins with Govardhan’s worship (symbolic representation of mountain). In addition, people revere “Goru (an Ox),” acknowledging its significance in cultivating the land by plowing it. For your information – bull is ride of God Shiva.
Boys and men visit nearby homes in the evening while singing and chanting “Deusi” folklore, and the owners of those homes give them food, fruit, sweets, and money in exchange for their blessings for wealth and prosperity in the coming years.
The Newar community has their own celebration in the evening of this day, The Mha Puja (Self Worship) falls on the Newari New Year ‘Nhu Dan 114…’ known as Nepal Sambat. On this auspicious day, the Newari community worship own self and pray for physical, and spiritual well being. Every Family member (from children to elder) sit on a line and creates a mandap decorated with flowers, sweets, garlands, and lights. They accept ‘Sanga/Sagun (auspicious)’ which is a combination of cultural dishes mainly (boiled then fried) eggs, bara, yogurt, buff meat, fish, ginger garlic fried and local rice wine.
Fifth Day: Bhai Tika – Main Day
Bhai Tika is the fifth and last day of Tihar.
On this day, sisters offer the Tika of five colors “Paanch Rangi Tika” on the foreheads of their brothers in an effort to ensure their longevity and ask Yamraja for their brother’s long life and wealth. Sister provides the brothers with “Shaguns” i.e. bucket-full of dry fruits, particularly walnuts and hazelnuts (Katus), fruits, and sweets, and in exchange, the brothers give their sisters presents and money.
The brothers also placed “Pancha Rangi Tika” i.e. Tika of five colors in forehead of the sister, bow their head touching the feet of sister, and promises to look out for her until the end of her days.