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Tihar: The Festival of Lights!

Tihar is another beautiful and dazzling festival for the Hindus which is the second greatest festival for Nepalese, after Dashain. The festival usually falls in the month of October or November. It is also known as “Deepawali” and “Yama Panchak”. It is the festival of lights, as Diyas are lit inside and outside the houses to make the house bright and joyful. Tihar is the festival of lights and family bonding especially between brothers and sisters. The cities and the surroundings look very clean and wonderful with the smell and presence of the marigold flowers during the festival.

Tihar always brings excitement and jolly mood in the families and friends; playing ‘Deusi-bhailo’ and trying the best to welcome goddess Laxmi, who is believed to bring the happiness and wealth in the life of everyone. 

Traditions of Tihar Festival

Tihar, as a festival signifies goodness and it is a beautiful festival. It is celebrated for five days and bestowed with traditional cultural characteristics of Nepal. On the first day of Tihar Festival, we worship crow and celebrate as “Kaag Tihar” with offerings of sweets and dishes placed on the roofs of houses. The second day of Tihar Festival is called “Kukur Tihar.” On this day, we worship dogs and offer garlands, tika, and delicious food to dogs and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs.

On the third day of Tihar Festival, Nepalese often worship cows and goddess Laxmi, which signifies prosperity and wealth. This day is also the most important holiday in the festival. The goddess of wealth is thanked for all the benefits that were bestowed on the families by lighting oil lamps (Diyo) or candles on doorways and windows to welcome prosperity and wellbeing. All the Nepalease will make their home as luminous as possible to attract goddess Laxmi’s attention. Houses all over the country are lit up with extra lights and decorated with flowers. 

Under different cultural backgrounds, people will honor different things on the fourth day of Tihar. On this day, people worship Ox. This day is observed as “Goru Tihar “or “Goru Puja.” Considered as the representative of Govardhan Mountain, cow dung is worshiped 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.

The last day of Tihar is celebrated as “Bhai Tika”which signifies and carries great importance for the love and concern between brothers and sisters. The sisters put the seven multi-color Tika on the brother’s forehead and pray for their longer life and good health. This celebration has enhanced the close relationship between brothers and sisters. It is also traditional to go from house to house singing Tihar songs and bestowing blessings, whereupon the residents of the house give money in return. Fireworks also fill the skies despite a government ban on fire-crackers. 

During this festival, friends and relatives will get reunion and exchange Tihar gifts and greetings with each other. Tihar not only brings happiness, but it also creates harmony in the family and in the society. The society unified to celebrate this greatest festival and make their areas beautiful with colors and lights. In addition to praying to the gods for the health of the whole family, Nepalese also pay special respect to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck. At night, each family and stores will light varieties of colorful lights, and the sky is filled with spectacular fireworks.