Tihar is the Hindu festival of lights. It is a festival five days long, taking place in the Nepali month of Kartik (October to November in the solar calendar). Tihar begins with Kaag Tihar in Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha and ends with Bhai Tika in Dwitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha every year. As it is the second biggest festival celebrated by Nepalese after Dashain, it is reflected to be of great importance.
The Delightful Festival - Tihar
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This festival shows a contribution to not just the humans and the gods, but also to animal like cows, dogs, crows, and others that maintain a bosom relationship with humans. During this festival, people will honor some animals like the crow, dogs, and cows as well as Laxmi, the goddess of prosperity and blessing. It is presented with the traditional cultural characteristics of Nepal.
Kaag Tihar (Day 1)
On the first day of the Tihar festival, people offer rice to the crows. People adore it to bring good blessings to their houses. Religious belief crow as it is regarded as the message bearer of Yamraj, the god of death. In the morning time, people offer rice, and sweets and leave them on the roof of the house to please them and prevent bad things from happening.
Kukur Tihar (Day 2)
The second day is Kukur (Dog) Tihar. Dogs are noted for their loyalty and honesty. They are honored with tilaka, a red mark on the forehead, with delicious food, and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and dogs. Also, Nepalese policemen will present beautiful garlands to the patrol dogs and paint their foreheads in red cinnabar to thank them for their contributions to social security.
Gai Tihar and Lakshmi Puja (Day 3)
The third day is Gai (cow) Tihar and Laxmi puja. On this day, people worship cows and the goddess of wealth Laxmi. People would get up early and clean the house thoroughly. Hence, they start to thank the cows. After a bath, those cows will wear red Tika and lovely garlands, with holy threads from the priest tied to their tails.
After an evening when the night falls, beautiful candles, oil lamps, and bright lights are lit up at the doors, steps, and even on the roof also. All the Nepalese will make their home as shining as possible to attract god Laximi's devotion. Same as shops and stores won't follow the traditional practices and keep open to welcome the goddess of wealth.
Children, as well as young people, play Deusi and Bhailo with light and fireworks. Deusi is a song that tells the story of the festival, with one person describing it and the rest as repetition. In return, the owners provide them money, fruit, and selroti (a round of pieces made of rice flour and sugar). Nowadays, also social workers, politicians, and a group of society visit local homes, collaborate with each other, and collect funds by singing and dancing for welfare and social activities.
Govardhan Puja and Mha Puja (Day 4)
People will respect different things on the fourth day of Tihar. As the ox is an energetic helper for the farmer, people will perform Goru Puja for the ox on this day. People who follow Vaishnavism (a major culture followed by Vishnu followers) perform Govardhan Puja. This day is also seen as the beginning of the New Year for the Newar community. All the Newarians will join up for this festival and perform Mha Puja to worship themselves.
Bhai Tika (Day 5)
And the last day of Tihar is Bhai tika. It is observed by sisters applying different colors of tika to the foreheads of their brothers to ensure a long life. On this day after auspicious tika, garlanded him and fed him special dishes. Brothers also follow the same ritual to put Tika on their sisters and give them some money in return. This celebration makes a close relationship between brothers and sisters.
During this festival, friends and relatives will get gathering and exchange Tihar gifts and greetings with each other. Every night, each family and store will light varieties of colorful lights, and the sky is filled with mighty fireworks. The highlight of Tihar in Nepal is bathing in the holy river to purify the body. In addition to praying to the gods for the health of the whole family, Nepali pay special respect to Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and blessings.