Dashain and Tihar the first two names that surface when the festivals of Nepal are discussed. Dashain is grandly celebrated for almost 15 days in all the parts of the country. While the fact is undeniable that Dashain is the greatest festival celebrated in Nepal, Tihar is equally grand and meaningful.
Lights, Marigold, Rangoli, Cleaning and Cooking are synonymous with Tihar. Each day of the five-day-long celebration has its own significance. The first day of Tihar is Kag (crow) Tihar, the superstitious belief behind worshipping a crow is that they are regarded as the carrier of bad news. On this day they are worshipped and provided with food so that they don’t bring bad news in the family. As this day marks the starting of Tihar most of the houses, offices, buildings are decorated with colorful lights. From this day till the end of Tihar, Deeyo, a small traditional lamp in a shape of a bowl made up of clay is filled with oil and a twisted cotton partially submerged in the oil is lit up in the evening and placed in different parts of the house and in front of the main entrance of the house.
Kukur (Dog) Tihar, the second day of the festival is devoted to dogs. Dogs are believed to guide the soul of deceased to heaven. On this day, dogs are worshiped by putting a garland of flowers mostly marigold around their neck as a form of respect. Also, not to forget a good meal after all the pampering and love.
The third day and the most important day of the five day celebration, Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) Puja, known to be the busiest day of the festival. The day starts with cleaning off the entire house and offices and decorating it with garlands of marigold. With all the cleaning and decorating the day passes as quickly as a blink of eye. In the evening a rangoli is made with different colors in the front porch or a patio of the house adjoining that a small pathway is drawn with liquid red soil(red soil or clay is regarded as pure and clean). Around seven or eight in the evening the puja (worship) is started by offering our respect to the deities mainly goddess Laxmi and serving fruits, food and sweets. On this day it is believed to be a good luck to buy gold or silver so, many people purchase gold and silver. After the puja the entire house is lit up with Deeyo and colorful lights, fire crackers are lit (note: firecrackers are harmful for the environment). Deusi a western idea of trick or treat where group of people go house to house sing songs and celebrate, they are also offered food, rice grains and money. The night ends with a huge variety of food which feels worth all the work and effort that we put all day.
Mha (body) puja or Goverdhan Puja is the fourth day of Tihar. Goverdhan puja is worshiping the ox as it helps the farmers in the farming process and agriculture throughout the year. While in the morning ox is worshiped in the evening people of Newari clan perform Mha Puja, they worship their body and soul. As it also marks the New Year of Newari community, they start the year by worshiping their body and soul.
The last day of the festival is Bhai (Brother) Tika, on this final day sisters worship their brother put on garland on their brothers neck and put on seven colored Tika on their forehead each of which having a different significance. This ritual has a very interesting story behind it, the legend goes that when the brother of the goddess Yamuna fell mortally ill, Yama the god of death came to take his life, Yamuna pleaded with the god of death to wait until she had completed her final puja for her brother. She then embarked on a long elaborate ritual that expanded to include Yama; Yamuna, then begged Yama not to take her brother away until the tika on his forehead had faded and the flowers on the garland had not withered. A special flower’s gardland made from the makhani flower (Gomphrena globosa) is placed around the brother’s neck, as this flower is known for its long life. As the day ends we bid a farewell to this festival and await for it every year.
The festival ends with a deeper companionship between the goddess above, the soul inside and the people surrounding us with the beautiful lights pushing the darkness away.
Cover Image Source: https://www.welcomenepal.com/whats-on/tihar.html