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Tihar Dipawali: Festival of lights

Tihar Dipawali Festival of lights

Tihar is five day long Nepalese festival also known as Dipawali. It is the festival of lights, Diyo (oil or butter lamps) and candles are lit around the houses to illuminate at night. The festival is popular to worship animals such as crows, dogs, cows and oxen; those have relationship with human beings.

Tihar festival starts at Kaag Tihar or Kaag Puja, worship of Crow. As Kaag Tihar is the first day of Tihar festival, Bhai Tika is the last day of this festival.

There are numerous legends and local customs associated with this Tihar / dipawali festival, but common to all is the illuminating homes, pathways, temples, and even government buildings, with hundreds of small clay lamps, candles and electric lights.

The five days of Tihar, the following traditions are commonly practiced in Nepal:

Day 1: Kaag Tihar (Worshiping Crow)

The first day of the festival is called Kaag Tihar (Worshiping Crow). Crows are worshipped as a messenger with offerings of sweets and dishes placed on the roofs of houses.

Day 2: Kukur Tihar (Worshiping Dog)

The second day is called Kukur Tihar (Dog festival). People offer garlands, tika and delicious food to dogs.

Day 3: Gai Tihar (Worshiping Cow) and Laxmi Puja (Worshiping Goddess Laxmi)

The morning of the third day is Gai Tihar (worship of the cow). In Hinduism, cow signifies as a mother. In ancient times, people benefited a lot from the cow. Thus, on this day, people show their gratefulness to cows by garlanding and feeding them with the best grass and food.

Homes, hotel, restaurant and offices are cleaned and decorated with garlands made from Saya Patri (marigold) flowers.

In the evening, Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshiped for prosperity and well-being.  Fruits, sweets, money, flowers are offered in front of idol of goddess Laxmi as a Prasad.

From the third day onward, Tihar is celebrated with Deusi Bhailo, special entertainment program. Nowadays, social workers, politicians and young people organize Dheusi Bhailo program, they visit local homes, hotel, restaurant and offices to collect funds for welfare and social activities.

Day 4: Goru Tihar (Worshiping Ox)

On the fourth day of Tihar, oxen are worshipped by giving it good food. It is observed as Goru Tihar (worship of the ox).

The Newar community performs Mha Puja (worship of self) on the evening. This day is the beginning of the new Newari date known as Nepal Sambat.

Day 5: Bhai Tika (Worshiping brother)

The fifth and last day of Tihar is called Bhai Tika. It is observed by sisters applying tika to the foreheads of their brothers to ensure their long life and affection.