Tihar is also known as Deepawali is a Hindu festival. It is celebrated for 5 days. It is celebrated mainly in Nepal and the Indian states of Assam and Sikkim. It is also celebrated in the Darjeeling district of West Bengal.
The five-day festival of lights honors Yama, the God of Death, meanwhile, the worship of Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth dominates the festivities.
On the first day, Kaag Tihar is the day of the crow, the informant of Yama is worshipped. The second-day Kukur Tihar is for worshipping the dogs as the agents of Yama. On the third day is Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja. On this day cow is offered prayers and food in the morning, and Goddess Laxmi is offered elaborate prayers and puja in the evening.
The fourth day is for the draught animal, oxen when the Newari community also performs Mha Puja dedicated to oneself. The fifth day is Brothers’ Day when sisters put tika on their brothers’ foreheads and give blessings. This festival is noted for lighting up homes with candles, oil-wick lamps and electric lights.
Houses all over the country are lit up with extra lights and decorated with garlands. A great view can be had of the brightly lit-up Kathmandu city from the Swoyambhunath Stupa. The celebrations begin with the adoration of crows and dogs. Leaf dishes of rice, incense and light are set out for the dark messenger, while dogs are worshipped and offered goodies.
During the day known as Laxmi Puja, the Goddess of Wealth is welcomed to people’s homes by making a path of footprints leading into the house. All lights are kept on and the doors and windows kept open to let in the goddess. Rows of lamps are placed along with windows and doors, with the strong hope that Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth notices and enters. The day also belongs to the cow that represents Laxmi.
Bhai Tika is the day people look forward to. In some communities, sisters and brothers accept tika from each other. Bhai means brother in Nepali. Brothers and sisters honor each other and the sisters pray to Yama, the God of Death, for their brothers’ progress, prosperity and longevity.
The brothers bring gifts to their sisters and the festival ends with feasting. It is also traditional to go from house to house singing Tihar festival songs and bestowing blessings, whereupon the residents of the house give money in return. Fireworks also fill the skies despite a government ban on firecrackers.
You might also like: Dashain festival