“ The Festival of Lights,” known popularly as “Tihar”, “ Deepawali,” or “ Diwali,” is one of the most fun festivals in Nepal. It is celebrated in India as well and is quite similar to the Nepali festival as well. It is celebrated mainly by the Hindus and has a rich history. It lasts for five days, and each day has its own significance.
The festival holds a significant history that dates back to ancient days. It celebrates the victorious way the gods won over the demons. This festival also celebrates animals like cows, crows, and dogs in Nepal. The animals are associated with Mother Nature and are considered a dive gift. Therefore, the Nepalese take a moment to appreciate and worship them these days. Additionally, in Tihar, Goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck, is also worshipped on this auspicious day.
This year, Tihar falls on 23 October to 27 October. And as per the Nepali calendar, it falls from 6 Kartik 2079 to 10 Kartik 2079. Kaag Tihar is the first day of these festivities. Following Kaag Tihar is Kukur Tihar, Gai puja, and Laxmi puja.
This article will discuss how and why Tihar is celebrated in Nepal.
How is Tihar Celebrated in Nepal?
The celebration of Tihar goes on for five days. Nepalese clean their house, buy new ornaments and utensils and decorate their house beautifully. You can witness every house bustling, packed with new clothes, gifts, sweets, and flowers for Tihar. All the houses are lit at night with traditional deeyas and small clay lamps. These lamps are lit to welcome Goddess Laxmi inside their humble house and to get her blessings. Small groups of young girls and boys play Deusi and Bhailo, which are sweet Nepali songs that simply bless the house and family and give them blessing.
Now, let’s check out how each day is celebrated in Nepal.
Day 1 - Kaag Tihar: The first day of Tihar is Kaag Tihar. Kaag means crow and is believed as a “ bad messenger” in Nepal. On this day, the crows are offered grains, rice, and water and worshipped. This is done to make them happy and avoid bad news in the future.
Day 2- Kukur Tihar: The second day is Kukur Tihar. Kukur means dogs and is believed to be the “ protector and guide of the souls”. In Nepalese society, dogs are considered to guide souls to heaven and also protect the house against dangers and death. The dogs are given good food, and the owners hang garlands on their necks and tika on their foreheads.
Day 3- Gai Puja/ Laxmi Puja: Day 3 consist of Gai Puja and also Laxmi Puja. Gai Puja means worship of the cows. Like the dogs, cows are worshipped, fed grass and garlands are hung around their necks, with tikas on their foreheads. The cows signify wealth and prosperity, and to welcome good prosperity; they are worshipped.
Later, everyone prepares for the Laxmi puja. Houses are cleaned, deeyas are lit, lights are hung over the house, and everyone gathers around for the evening puja. Goddess Laxmi is worshipped, and in front of her statue or frame, sweets, fruits, Sel roti( sweet rice bread) are offered. After the puja, young girls and boys go to play deusi bhailo and enjoy their time.
Day 4- Govardhan Puja/ Mha Puja: Ox is the next animal worshipped on Tihar. They are regarded to be important domestic animals, especially for the farmers. The oxen are worshipped and given fresh grasses to eat.
In addition to this day, Mha Puja is also celebrated by the Newari community of Nepal. It is a Newari New Year for this community which they celebrate happily. They wear new clothes, gather with their friends& families and welcome the New Year.
Day 5- Bhai Tika: The last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika. This day is filled with love between brothers and sisters. Sisters prepare on this day by wearing clean clothes, cooking, and getting the tikas and garlands ready. Meanwhile, the brothers also change into their best wear and buy gifts for their sisters. At an auspicious time fixed by the priest, the ceremony starts. The sister first puts a tika white base, followed by 7 different colors on the forehead. Next, fresh garlands are hung on their necks; they feed them Sel roti, milk, and sweets.
This day has a great meaning behind it. The tika and garlands are a form of protection given to the brothers by their sisters. To appreciate this gesture, the brother will gift their sister with presents.
These are the way how Nepalese celebrate Tihar. The festival is loved by everyone, and you can enjoy this festival in Nepal. One can enjoy the view of kites flying in a blue sky, the lovely cooking smell of sel roti, and the melodious voices of youths.
Visit Nepal in 2022 and enjoy Tihar with Nepal Hiking Team.