Tihar – Festival of Colors & Light
Tihar – Also known as Yama Panchak, is a very famous festival celebrated by Nepalese people. The lord of death – Yamaraj and The goddess of wealth – Laxmi, is worshipped during Tihar. Tihar is a festival of lights and colors where every house of every nook and corner is decorated with lights and flowers. Though there are various names of Tihar such as Swonti according to Newari people and Diwali according to the Indian people, the main theme of Tihar remains the same.
The house and the whole locality seems amazingly beautiful being decorated with the traditional lamp – Diyo made up of clay, where the twisted cotton is dipped in the oil and is lighted. The fireworks add more delight to the Tihar festival.
- Social Festival
- Worshiping Animals as a valuable part of daily life
- Preserving the brotherhood
Tihar is celebrated for five days. The first day beings from the Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha and ends on the fifth day with the Dwitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha. Every day of Tihar carries a special meaning and significance. The very first day of Tihar is Kaag Tihar in which the crows are worshipped by offering foods and sweets on the roof of the house. Kaag (crow), the informant of Yamaraj is believed to bring the message of sadness and misery. Therefore, people worship Kaag with a belief that the Kaag would not bring any message of sorrow at their house.
The second day of Tihar is Kukur Tihar. This day is celebrated as Khicha Puja by the Newari people. The dog is considered as the agent of Yamaraj and also the guard of hell. Furthermore, this day is celebrated as Narka Chaturdashi. So, the dog is worshipped by putting tika (Dot of the red color (abir) and yellow color (Kesari) ) and garlands and people offer sweets and food to the dogs. Also, they are worshipped for their loyalty.
The third day is Gai Tihar or Laxmi Pooja. On this day, people clean their houses, decorate with colorful flowers, and make impressive designs of Rangoli in front of their doors with seven different colors. The colors include the seven colors of the rainbow – VIBGYOR ( Violet, Indigo, Blue, Green, Yellow, Orange, and Red ). The house is decorated and cleaned to welcome the goddess of wealth – Laxmi and other gods and goddesses so that they will bless their home with wealth and happiness. The day becomes busier but the level of satisfaction is more than the tiredness. Also, they worship Gai (cow) – the symbol of goddess Laxmi. At the auspicious time of the evening, Goddess Laxmi is worshipped.
The women take fast and prepare varieties of delicious sweets and desserts and also prepare selroti. The adults and the children gather together and play Deusi Bhailo by singing the folk Deusi Bhailo song and dancing to various songs.
The fourth day is Goru Tihar. This day is celebrated according to the people and their traditions. The people worship ox in this day. The Newari people celebrate this day as Mha Puja – i.e they worship themselves. This day is also celebrated as the start of a new year Bikram Sambat according to the Newari people. Some people worship Govardhan (hill) by taking the cow dung as Govardhan.
Main day of Tihar
The fifth day is Bhai Tika where the sisters worship their brothers for their long life. With certain rituals, Bhai tika is celebrated. Every step of the ritual has separate importance and meaning. The day, Bhai Tika has a long story back. It is believed that the Lord of death – Yamaraj went to put tika from his sister Yamuna and she worshipped her brother as a ritual by putting Tilak ( tika with seven different colors) on his forehead, garland and prepared sweets and other food items for her brother. So. Yamarj announced that those brothers who put tika from their sisters would have a long life.
It is also believed that the turfgrass and the garland of Makhamali flower being fresh and not dried for the next year epitomize the long life of their brother.
In this way, the five days of Tihar are celebrated with joy and hope of the prosperous, long and healthy life of their beloved ones. The cherishing lights and colors, the joyous days with songs and dance, and the prayers for the loved one, Tihar, is a mesmerizing festival. The alluring beauty of the garden with the blooming flowers adds charm to the houses and also the festival of Tihar.
Tihar, a social festival
Tihar – being a festival of lights and colors, is a social festival. Nepal is a country that is rich in culture and traditions. After Dashain, Tihar is the biggest festival of the Nepalese people. The five days of the Tihar carries the significance of each day.
The adults and children of a locality gather together to play deusi bhailo together and visit door – to – door of the same or another locality. This increases the social interaction between people. The relatives or the neighbors gather together in the house to prepare sweet dishes, Selroti, and the feast for Tihar. In this way, they socialize with each other. They get to know each other furthermore and have fun at the same time. To gather together and play swings in commonplace during the festival of Tihar is a part of traditional practice during the festival.
Tihar is also a festival of the celebration of the siblings. The brotherhood and sisterhood are enjoyed and celebrated. The spirituality of the tradition is kept and preserved for generations to generations along with having fun and entertainment. The happiness of gathering around, listening to those long backstories with grandmother and grandfather, and meeting those siblings who were away, for the time being, is overwhelming.
Worshiping Sisterhood and Brotherhood
Tihar is the festival of celebration of sisterhood and brotherhood. Tihar is a festival for the family reunion. On the day of Bhai Tika- the main day of Tihar, Sisters offer blessing and Tika to their brothers with different presents for their long life, and brothers do the same in return. This is the most significant part of the Tihar festival to preserve brotherhood and sisterhood throughout life. The temple of Balgopaleshwor, located at the center of historical Rani Pokhara of Kathmandu, opens only once a year on the day of Bhai Tika of Tihar. People who do not have a brother or sister visit here to get blessings on the very day.
On the day of Bhai Tika, the sisters pray for the long life of their brother with a certain ritual of Bhai Tika. The sisters and brothers who couldn’t meet for months or years, meet on the day of Bhai Tika and share their happiness and sorrows along with the ritual of Bhai Tika.
Preparation Part of the Tihar Festival
There are a lot of preparations to be done for Tihar and hence the family members and relatives gather together for the preparation. The neighbors also gather together for the celebration of Tihar. Varieties of feasts are prepared and the house becomes lively with the laughs and gossip in the kitchen and the living room. The children enjoy the fireworks with their family or siblings.
Tihar, the festival for animals
Nepal – the land of unity in diversity, is a country enriched in festivals and celebrations of the cultures and traditions. Among the various festivals, Dashain is the largest festival of the Nepalese whereas Tihar is the second largest festival. Tihar is the festival of lights and colors celebrated for five days. The very first day is Kaag Tihar and the fifth day is Bhai Tika. With various significance and stories that date back, Tihar is celebrated with rejoice.
Festival of Animal Worshiping
Tihar is the festival where animals are worshipped and prayed. On the first day, Kaag Tihar is celebrated where Kaag (crow and ravine) is worshipped. They are believed to be the messenger of death and also believed to bring the message of sorrows or griefs. So they are worshipped invite good luck rather than the pain and dismays.
On the second day, Kukur Tihar is celebrated where the loyalty and friendship of the dogs for humankind is celebrated. Dogs are believed to be the agent of the Lord of death – Yamamaraj and believed that they can sense the death of the people early. The dogs are also considered as the guard of the Narka (hell). So, this day is also celebrated as Narka Chaturdashi.
On the third day, Gai Tihar is celebrated. On this day, the cow is worshipped for all her favor to mankind. In the context of Nepal, the cow is also regarded as the mother. The cow is regarded as the emblem of the goddess of wealth – Laxmi. So, in the evening Goddess Laxmi is worshipped with a belief that she will bless them with wealth.
On the fourth day, Goru Tihar is celebrated. This day is also known as Govardhan Puja. On this day, the hard-working friends of the farmers i.e ox are worshipped. Also during this day, a mini Govardhan is made with cow dung and worshipped. This depicts that even the cow dung is venerated in Nepal.
With all those significances of every day of Tihar, it is a festival that worships animals.
So Tihar – the festival of lights and colors, is also a festival for family reunions.
Tihar as festivals of light and color
Tihar – popularly known as the festival of lights and colors, is celebrated for five days. Every nook and corner of the town and village is embellished with the beautiful garlands of the marigold flower (Sayapatri Phool) and lightened with the artificial colorful bulbs or the traditional lamp made up of clay ( Diyo). The twisted cotton is dipped in the oil and placed in the Diyo and is lighted. With the illumination of those beautiful lights, everyone feels overjoyed.
On the day of Laxmi Puja, people clean their houses and decorate the windows and the doors with garlands. They mark a line of red soil ( Rato Mato) to their temple where Laxmi is believed to be worshipped. Also, they make winsome designs of Rangoli in front of the doors with a belief to welcome the Goddess Laxmi as well as other gods. Seven different colors (colors of the rainbow), flowers, floors, and leaves of the plants are used to make Rangoli (customized Mandala).
The lights and colors are so beautiful that you feel like literally being in heaven. So Tihar is the festival of light and color.
Since the festival falls during the month of October/November many foreign take the opportunity to visit Nepal during the festival dates. Cultural tours around the Kathmandu valley lets you experience the decorated colorful streets with varieties of lights.
A festival of the goddess of wealth– Laxmi
Tihar, the festival of lights and colors is also known as Yamapanchak. Nepal marks Tihar for five days. Each day has its importance.
The Gai Tihar falls on the third day. During the evening of the same day, Laxmi Pooja – worshiping of the goddess of wealth is conducted in every household and business house. Performing a special ritual, the Goddess of wealth – Laxmi is worshiped and invited to one’s house. From the early morning, the preparation of Puja begins.
The people clean their houses, decorate the windows and doors with the garlands of Sayapatri Phool, and prepare sweet dishes to offer for Goddess Laxmi. Every activity is done to please the goddess Laxmi. Before the time of puja, people mark a red line from the front door to their temple and make the shape of the feet with their hands by dipping their hands in the red-colored water. This represents that Laxmi has entered the house. Then at the auspicious time, they worship the goddess of wealth – Laxmi.
Not only at home, Laxmi puja is done in the same pattern at the office as it is done at the home.
So, the second largest festival of Nepalese people – Tihar is the festival of inviting the Goddess Laxmi.