Tihar , also known as YamaPanchak or Deepawali , is a five days long hindu festival celebrated in Nepal which comes soon after Dashain The name Tihar means the festival of lights, where many candles are lit both inside and outside the houses to make it bright at night. The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crow, cow and dog, who maintain an intense relationship with the humans.
There are many myths linked with the grand Diwali or Tihar celebrations, the most popular story associated with Tihar in Nepal is the story of a King. According to the legend, the king was told by the astrologer that a snake would bite him and take away his life. As a solution the priest told him to sleep with the lamps lit around his bed and all around his palace on the day of Laxmi Puja. When the snake came to bite him, it was convinced by Goddess Laxmi and left the king unharmed. It took him to Yama Raj, the Lord of death. Yama Raj came to know about the Goddess Laxmi’s blessings on the king and and presented him a life again. It is believed that from then onwards Tihar is widely celebrated by lighting lamps and by celebrating Laxmi Puja, to welcome happiness and prosperity into ones life.
The first day of the festival is called Kag Tihar ( Kag = Crow ).The crows are worshipped by offerings of sweets and dishes on the roof of the houses.Crow is believed to be the messenger of Yamaraj. Second day is Kukur Tihar ( Kukur = Dog ) .It is also called as Khincha Pooja by the Newars. Dog, which is believed to be keeper of Lord Yamaraj, the god of death.People offer garlands, tika and delicious food to the dogs, and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and the dogs.This day is also observed as Narak Chaturdashi.On the morning of the third day is Gai Tihar (Gai – cow ) is observed. In Hinduism, the cow is sign of prosperity and wealth. In ancient times people benefitted a lot from the cow like its milk, dung even its urine was used for kind of purification.Houses are cleaned and the doorways and windows are decorated with garlands made of marigolds and chrysanthemums.In the evening Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth is thanked for all the benefits that were bestowed on the families by lighting oil lamps or candles on doorways and windows to welcome prosperity and well being. At night the girls enjoy dancing and visiting all the houses of the village with many musical instruments playing a historical game called Bhailo all night long.On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas, depending on the people’s specific cultural background.Most perform Goru Tihar ( Goru= Oxen) . People who follow Krishna perform Gobardhan Puja, which is worship towards Cowdung.Cowdung is seen as very useful in Nepal, as in the olden days it was used for everything from light at night to polish for the mud floors of traditional houses. The Newar community on the night of this day do Mha Pooja (Mha= Body ). Because this period is also the beginning of Nepal Samvat, or the new year of Nepalese especially commemorated by Newars, it ensures prosperity for the new year. The Nepal Samvat was initiated by Sankhadhar Sakhwa. Desui is played by boys in the late evening.The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika , a day where sisters put Saptarangi meaning of Seven colours; Tika on foreheads of brothers, to ensure long life, and thank them for the protection they give.When the sisters give the Tika, the brothers give gifts or money in return. A special garland is made for the brothers out of a flower that wilts only after a couple of months ( Makhamali ), symbolizing the sister’s prayer for her brother’s long life. This festival brings close relationship between brothers and sisters.
Bhailo is played in the late evening of Laxmi Pooja while Deusi on Goru Pooja . Bhailo (especially for girls)and Deusi ( for boys ) dictates the enjoyment . They collect money from all the houses by singing and dancing and share the sweets and money amongst themselves.In return the home owners give them money, fruit, rice and Selroti . FireCrackes are also used in the festival.This festival indicates the bond between animals and human and tries to strengthen the bond of family members especially brothers and sisters.
As firecrackers are being banned from some years. It’s better not to play with them. It may result in accident and you may get arrested. May Goddess Laxmi give peace, Prosperity and Riches to you and your family. May the bond between your family members strengthen. Stay Safe….