Tihar the Festival of Lights in Nepal
Festival of Lights (Tihar)
The five day festival of Tihar, also famously know as the Festival of Lights, is celebrated in the honor of Yama, the God of Death. This festival also celebrates the Goddesses Laxmi, the Goddesses of Wealth.
Day 1 of Tihar (Festival of Lights)
The Festival of Lights, Tihar begins with Kaag Tihar on the first day. Kaag referring to Crow, this way is dedicated to crows, providing them with abundant grains, seeds, and sweets. Crows are believed to be the messenger of Yama. So it is believed that the “crawing” of these birds indicates sadness and grief. Therefore, to please the crows, people offer grains, seeds, and sweets in the hopes of warding away sadness and grief.
Day 2 of Tihar (Festival of Lights)
The second day of the Festival of Lights is dedicated to dogs, who are also considered the messenger of Yama.
According to ancient beliefs, during the time of Mahabharata, the five Pandav brothers are followed by a dog as they proceeded to their path to “Swarga” (heaven). During this time, the eldest brother Yudhistir watches as all of his brothers fall along the way, and only the dog remained faithful and loyal with him till the end. As he reached the gates of Swarga, he refused to enter the gates without the dog. During this, the dog revealed himself to be the god Yama. And since the time of the great story of Mahabharat, dogs and humans have had a deep bond.
So on this day, dogs are showered with Tikas, abundant food, and necklaces made up of the Hundred petal flower (Marigold).
Day 3 of Tihar (Festival of Lights)
The third day of Tihar is Gai (Cow) Tihar and Laxmi Puja. Cows have since the ancient times been considered sacred animals in Hinduism, since the cow is the “vahana” of the goddess of wealth Lakshmi.
So the third day is dedicated to the Goddesses Laxmi and her “vahana” (animal ride) the cow in hopes of bringing prosperity and wealth in to the devotee’s homes.
This if one of the most colorful and bright day that is celebrated. On this day, all the houses are dressed in flashy bright lights that looks very attractive in the night time. It is believed that the Goddesses will visit the houses that are bright and vibrant, and will not visit dark homes. For this reason, you will see almost all of the houses lit up in “Diyas” (candle), electrical lights; to invite the Goddesses Laxmi.
In the evening, young girls also go around the neighborhood, singing and dancing in the tradition called Bhailo. The sing the songs of the old times and stories that relate to Tihar. For this they are provided a small amount of money along with some traditional foods are rewards.
Day 4 of Tihar (Festival of Lights)
The fourth day of the Festival of Lights is the Govirdhan Puja and Mha Puja day. On this day, the Ox is seen as an analogue to the cow, since it provides manual labour, especially important for agriculture in countries like Nepal.
Bhai Tika is the fifth day of Tihar. This final day of Tihar is dedicated to brothers and sisters to mark their special bond by worshipping each other.
According to ancient legends, the goddess Yamuna’s brother fell mortally ill and the god Yama has come to claim his soul. But because of Yamuna’s plead to Yama for him to wait until her final puja (prayer) to be complete. During this long puja, Yamuna asked the god Yama not to take her bother’s soul away until the tika on his forehead had faced.
So this day is specially to signify the protective barrier of oil and holy water that sisters place around their brothers by circumambulating them several times.
The Festival of Lights is one, if not the most, exciting festivals that is celebrated throughout the country of Nepal. With ancient and legendary stories being recalled to lighting up houses with bright and vibrant lights to invite the goddesses Laxmi.