Tihar a festival of lights
Tihar a festival of lights in Nepal also known as Deepawali and Yamapanchak, is the second-biggest festival after Dashain. The five-day festival of lights, known as Tihar honours Yama, the God of Death, meanwhile, the worship of Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth dominates the festivities. During this festival, people will honour crows, dogs, and cows as well as Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck. As numerous candles and festive lanterns will be lit up for the Goddess of Laxmi, Tihar is also well-known as the festival of lights.
Celebrations of the Tihar a festival of lights:
Tihar festival is the second biggest festival in Nepal. It is celebrated for five days and bestowed with the traditional cultural characteristics of Nepal. And each Tihar holiday has its own saying. The first day of Tihar is to worship crows, “the messenger of death”. People often sprinkle rice on the ground for crows’ pecking. The second day of Tihar is to honour dogs, “the guardian of the god of death”. The third day is to welcome the Goddess of Laxmi. The fourth day is to thank cows. The fifth day is to place Tihar quotes (Tihar Tika) to brothers and present Tihar gifts for sisters.
Day 1 Kaag Tihar/Crow Day, worshipping crows:
On the first day of the Tihar festival, people will offer rice to the crows, “the messenger of death”. These crows are busy all year round, and only have this day to rest. It is important to ensure that the crows are happy, otherwise, they will inform of the bad news, and bad things would happen in the coming year.
Day 2 Kukur Tihar/Dog Day, thanking dogs:
The second day of the Tihar Festival is called Kukur Tihar. On this day, Nepalis will honour dogs for they believe that the dog can guarantee the souls of the dead get to heaven. People usually wear dogs with Tihar Tika and calendula garlands and then treat them to a fancy dinner. In Nepal, the dog plays an important role as “the gatekeeper of death”, which is said to lead the deceased across the river of death in the underworld. On Kukur Tihar, Nepalese policemen will present beautiful garlands to the patrol dogs and paint their foreheads in red cinnabar to thank them for their contributions to social security.
Day 3 Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja, honouring cow and the goddess of wealth:
On the third day of the Tihar festival, Nepalese often worship cows and Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. This day is also the most important holiday in the festival. People would get up early and clean the room thoroughly. Hence, they start to thank cows. After a cosy bath, those cows will wear red Tika and beautiful wreaths, with holy strings from the priest tied to their tails.
Day 4 Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja and Maha Puja, celebrating Newari New Year:
Under different cultural backgrounds, people will honour different things on the fourth day of Tihar. As the ox is an indispensable helper for the farmer, people will perform Goru Puja for the ox. Considered the representative of Govardhan Mountain, cow dung is worshipped in Govardhan Puja. In addition, this day is also seen as the beginning of the new year for the Newar community in Kathmandu valley. All the Newarians will reunite for this festival and perform Mha Puja to worship themselves.
Day 5 Bhai Tika, performing Kija Puja:
The last day of Tihar is known as Bhai Tika. On this day, brothers and sisters will gather together and accept Tihar quotes on their foreheads. After placing the multi-coloured Tika and splendid garlands to the brothers, the sisters would offer them some Shaguns (a kind of candy) as a Tihar gift. And then the brothers would follow the same ritual to put Tika on their sisters and give them some money in return. This celebration has enhanced the close relationship between brothers and sisters.