What is Tihar?
Tihar also is known as Dipawali is one of the greatest festivals of Nepal. Not only Nepal, but it is also celebrated in Indian states. It generally falls in the month of October/November. Tihar is the second biggest festive celebration in Nepal after Dashain. It is known as Swanti among Newars and Diwali among the Madhesis community. This festival is known as the festival of lights. Lights are the prominent feature of this festival. Diyos are lit inside and outside of the house during the night. People keep their houses and surrounding very neat and clean. They decorate their house with flowers, pictures, and keep oil lamps burning at night. Moreover, different patterns and designs are also made on the floor using color, rice, sand, etc. known as Rangoli, which is regarded as the sign of welcome to Goddess Laxmi. The festival is celebrated for five days. Hence, it is known as Panchak.
The festival begins in Triyodashi of Karthik Krishna Paksha, a day is known as Kag Tihar, and ends in Dutiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha, a day is known as Bhai Tika. The first day is called the Kag Tihar. On this day, Crow or Kag is worshipped as the message carrier. Similarly on the second day known as Kukur Tihar¸people worship dogs as the protector of the houses and properties. According to the Hindu scripture, Yamaraj, the god of death is believed to have two dogs who were the guard of the Narga, the hell. So, People offer garlands, tika, and provide them food. The third day of Tihar is known as Laxmi Pooja. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped on this day.
Laxmi is regarded as the Goddess of fortune or wealth. So, in this day Cows are worshipped as an incarnation of Goddess Laxmi. They feed cows and offer garlands. It is believed that people can have a lot of wealth if Goddess Laxmi is pleased. So, Houses and surroundings are kept clean, decorations are done with garlands of Saya Patri and Makhamali. In the evening time, Goddess Laxmi is welcomed in the house by lighting different oil lamps or candles around the house so as to bring prosperity and wellbeing.
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At night, the girls enjoy dancing and singing known as Bhailo. They visit houses of neighbors all night collecting amount as the tip or the charity for them. On the fourth day, different poojas are performed depending on the people’s culture. Mainly, people worship oxen as a useful and faithful animal. The followers of Vaishnavism do Govardhan Pooja by worshipping the cow dung as the reflector to Govardhan Mountain. Moreover, in the evening the Newari Community performs the Maha Pooja(self-worship). The day marks the new year of the Nepal Sambat Calendar. Moreover, in this day people especially boys enjoy playing Deuso in which one person narrates the song and rests sings as a supporter.
The last day of the Tihar is known as Bhai Tika. On this day, sisters worship their brothers by putting Tika on the forehead and garland around the neck. It is done to wish for the long life and protection of the brothers. The Bhai Tika follows the tradition of circling the brother by dropping the oil from the pitcher esp. copper one, putting oil on the hair of brothers, and applying seven color tikas( Saptarangi Tika ). They also present the gifts along with the sweets, fruits, and other specialty food items. Those without brothers or sisters, join their relatives for the Tika.
A legend Dipawali has that the lord King of Death – Yamraj went to his sister and stayed there for five days. His sister hailed him heartily and offered a tika and garland around his neck. She provided delicious food, she wished for his peace, progress, and long life. Hence, the sisters worship the Yamraj before worshipping their brothers at Tihar. It is believed that the life span of the brothers lengthens if they worship the Yamraj. This is how it is a festival of joy and jubilation. Similarly, it is an occasion to strengthen the tie-up between brothers and sisters.
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