Tihar Festival

Tihar is the second popular festival celebrated by the Hindu community in Nepal. Tihar is also known as Deepawali which means festival of lights. Tihar is majorly celebrated in Nepal and India since both of the countries have a major population of Hindu people.

Tihar Festival
Tihar Festival

Tihar is five days long Nepali festival, which according to the western calendar occurs in October or November (Ashoj or Kartik month of Nepali Patro). It is also called 'Yama Panchak' because it is celebrated five days long. According to Hindu mythology, Particularly 'Ramayan', the son of Lord Surya. Yamaraj's sister's invitation was accepted by Yamaraj so this festival is called Yamapanchak.

Kaag Tihar:

The first day of Tihar is Kaag Tihar. Kaag (Crow) is believed as a Yamraj's informant and worshipped by feeding them with sweets and dishes placed on the roofs of houses. Some believe cawing of crows symbolizes sadness and grief so they offer sweets and dishes to avert the grief and death in their house by worshipping crows and ravens. 

Kukur Tihar:

The second day of the festival is called Kukur Tihar. Kukur Tihar is also called 'Narak Chaturdashi' as a dog is taken as a Yamraj's loyal guard and watches over the gates of Hell for him. On this day Hindu people worship dogs offering garlands and feeding them with special treatment in every home and street. Recently people from other countries are also seemed to follow this culture of worshipping dogs for their loyalty. 

Laxmi Puja and Gai Tihar:

The third day 'Laxmi Puja; and 'Gai Tihar'. On this day Cow is worshiped in the early morning. Hindu people workship cows before doing any religious function. Not only this the cow's urine (Gaaut) is taken as purity that is used to purify the houses. After completing Gai puja people start preparation for Laxmi puja which is the most important event throughout the Tihar. All houses are cleaned and decorated with garlands made with sayapatri (marigold). In the evening, Laxmi the goddess of wealth and prosperity is worshipped and thanked for all the benefits that were granted to the family by lighting diyo (Oil Lamp) and candles on doorways and windows to welcome goddess Laxmi. From this day Tihar is celebrated with Deusi Bhailo which is celebrated by the Hindu people following their ancient rituals. On this day, particularly girls visit the houses in neighborhood singing bhailo song and dancing. Girls who symbolize the goddess Laxmi, visit other houses playing bhailo song. Deusi is mostly sung by boys. The people offer 'Selroti', sweets, fruits, flowers, money, chamal (rice) and gifts to deusi and bhailo. People singing and dancing deusi and bhailo gives blessing to the family of the house they visit.

I have also detail blog post about deusi bhailo from the eye of foreigner on this link(deusi-bhailo).

Goru Tihar:

Govardhan Puja is done on the fourth day. It is also called 'Goru Tihar' or 'Goru Puja'. On this day, an ox (bullock) is worshipped by giving it good food. The Newar community performs 'Maha Puja' on this day by worshipping self. This day is the beginning of the new Nepal Sambat calendar which is the oldest calendar followed by Newari people. Nepali culture of visiting houses with playing deusi and bhailo continues to this day also. 

Bhaitika:

The fifth day, last day and second most important day of the Tihar is 'Bhai tika'. Sisters invite their brother to their house as the sister of 'Yamaraj' (Lord of death), wishing for a long and prosperous life of their brothers. Sisters prepare special garland made with 'Makhamali' flowers which symbolize the prayer for a long life of their brothers. The Puja follows a traditional ritual where sisters circle their brothers with oil and applying seven colors tika on their forehead with the special garlands. The brother follows the same process of applying tika on their sister's forehead and exchange gifts and money as Dakshina. This festival represents the strong relationship and the bonds between brothers and sisters

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