Tihar is the second major festival of Nepal after Dashain. It is also called Deepawali and Yamapanchak. Tihar is celebrated for five days.
Celebrated by the Hindus all over the world, Tihar falls in the month of Kartik (November). During this festival, certain animals are worshipped too.
Why Tihar is celebrated?
As per the mythology, Tihar is all about the Yama, the God of Death, and his sister Yamuna. Yama had been remaining absent from his sister for a long time. His sister needed to meet him so she inquired different sources to visit him and inquire him to grant her a visit. She sent a crow, a dog, and a cow. But Yama didn’t visit her. Eventually, she went herself to see her brother. She adored him with five colored Tika and Makhamali garlands. Yamuna circled Yama with mustard oil, Dubo Grass (Cynodon Dactylon), and put Makhmali Mala (Globe Amaranth) and asked him not to go till the oil, Dubo Grass and the blossom gets dry. From that day, every year in Tihar, sister adores her brother keeping him within the circle of mustard oil, putting mala of Makhmali blossom and Dubo grass.
Five days of Tihar- Second Biggest Festival of Nepal
Day 1- Kaag Tihar (Crow Tihar)
On the first day of Tihar, people worship Kaag (crow). As per Hindu mythology, the crow is regarded as the “Messenger of Death”. On this day, they offer sweets and foods to the crow. It is important to ensure that the crows are happy, otherwise, they will inform the bad news, and bad things would happen in the coming year.
Day 2 – Kukur (Dog) Tihar / Khicha Puja
On the second day of Tihar, people worship dogs for their loyalty. They believe that the dog can guarantee the souls of the dead to get to heaven. 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. People put Tika, garlands and give them food at this Dog festival in Nepal. Nepal is the only country in the world that worships dogs.
Day 3 – Laxmi Puja / Gai (Cow) Tihar
On this day, people worship Gai (Cow) for their offering to humans. They put Tika, garlands, and offering their favorite foods. People would get up early and clean the room thoroughly. Later, they decorated their houses with garlands.
Later in the evening, people worship Goddess Laxmi. Laxmi is regarded as The Goddess of Wealth. They light the Diyo or lightning all over the house. That’s why Tihar is also known as the festival of Light.
In the nighttime, girls play Bhailo by visiting each house of the community.
Day 4 – Goru Tihar and Mha Puja
On this day of Tihar, people worship Goru (Ox). People make a Goverdan mountain with the Cow dung and worship it. As ox is an indispensable helper for the farmer, people will perform Goru Puja for ox.
Newar community in Kathmandu performs Mha Puja which means worshipping oneself. This day is the starting of the Nepal Sambat Calendar, the national lunar calendar of Nepal.
In the night boys play Deusi by visiting each house of the community. They sing a song and dance together.
Day – 5 Bhai Tika
Bhai Tika is the most important day of the Tihar. Bhai means Brother and sister put five-colored Tika on their forehead for their longevity of health and age. Sister gives food, sweets, and gifts to their brothers and brother give them money. All the family gathers together and plays cards, dances, light firecrackers, and many more.