What is Tihar?
Tihar also known as Dipawali is one of the greatest festivals of Nepal. Not only Nepal, it is also celebrated in Indian states. It generally falls in the month of October. Tihar is the second biggest festive celebration in Nepal after Dashain. It is known as Swanti among Newars and Diwali among 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 ,day known as Kag Tihar and ends in Duitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha ,day 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 cow 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.
At night, the girls enjoy by dancing and singing known as Bhailo. They visit houses of neighbours 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 an useful and faithful animal. The followers of Vaishnavism do Govardhan Pooja by worhiping the cow dung as the reflector to Govardhan Mountain. Moreover,in the evening the Newari Community peform the Maha Pooja(self worship). The day marks the new year of the Nepal Sambat Calendar. Moreover, in this day people especially boys enjoy by playing Deuso in which one person narrates the song and rest sings as 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 tradition of circling the brother by dropping the oil from the pitcher esp.copper one , putting oil on hair of brothers and applying seven color tikas( Saptarangi Tika ). They also present the gifts along with the sweets, fruits and other special 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 tika and garland round 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.