Tihar: The Festival of Light

Introduction

People know the most celebrated festival Tihar for its different names. It also goes by the name Deepawali or Yamanpanchak or Swanti. It is a five-day-long festival in which people celebrate with great enthusiasm and joy. Since it lies within a short interval of Dashain, it provides people with a whole month of festivity.

People from different regions and places celebrate Tihar. Mostly the people of Nepal celebrate this festival. However, people from Assam, Sikkim, Darjeeling of the Indian states also celebrate this festival with great joy.

Some facts about Tihar

We can also call this as the festival of lights. In this festival, people clean their houses and make lighting preparation. They illuminate their home with ‘diyas’ and ‘jhilimili batti.’ I still remember the sight of Tihar at night. All the people cleaned and decorated their house with lights, and at night it felt light on some kind of grand occasion.

Fire Crackers in Tihar
Fire Crackers

Primarily, people from the Newar community refer to this festival as the Swanti, whereas people from Madhes know this festival Deepawali. Though it is famous with a different name in the various districts, people celebrating this festival with the same motive has made Nepal a heavenly garden with different beautiful flowers.

According to Vikram Samvat calendar,  this festival always starts in Triyodashi fo Kartik Krishna Paksha with Kaag this festival. It ends in Dwitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha with Bhai Tika every year. Since this is the second biggest festival of Nepalese people, people await it with great enthusiasm and celebrate with great ecstasy.

Significance of Tihar

Tihar carries different importance for people. Unlike other festivals where we only devote and worship God, in this festival also worship human and animals as well. People celebrate this festival by worshipping different animals like crows, dogs, and cows. This goes to show that we should be grateful not only to God but also to plants and animals as they have their importance.

In this festival, people make different unique and different patterns on the floor in front of their houses in different colors. People call this process as making Rangoli. People consider this area as the sacred welcoming area for Goddess Laxmi.

While worshipping animals, people perform different activities. In the case of the crow, they put on tika and flower garland if possible and offer sweet to the crows. In the same process, people worship dogs and cows as well.

Day 1: Kaag Tihar (Crow Worshipping Day)

The first day that marks the beginning of Deepawali is Kaag Tihar or Crow Worshipping day. People also call this day as the day to worship “the messenger of the death.” People believe that if there is any news related to us, then the crow acts as a messenger as notify us by giving some signals to us.

Crow Worshiping
Worshiping Crow

On this day, people sprinkle rice to consider it as offering the rice to the crows. People perform this activity to ensure the crows are happy. If they are not satisfied, people believe that the crows will inform us of some bad news in the coming year. It also goes by the name “Ko Puja” in the Newar community. They use “Ko” to refer to crow.

People do not perform many activities on this auspicious day. Thus people do not consider this day as of much importance except for the worshipping crow.

DAY 2: Kukur Tihar (Dog Worshipping Day)

The second day of Deepawali is Kukur Tihar or Dog Worshipping Day. On this day, people respect the dog for their contribution to society and their home. Dogs are very faithful animals. They guard our house against the stranger. At night, they defend our community against any suspicious person.  Thus people rever their contribution on this day.

Kukur Puja
Kukur Puja

It also goes by the name “Khicha Puja” in the Newar community. In the Newar community, they use the word “Khicha” to refer to dogs. On this day, people put tika and garlands to the dogs. People also offer delicious food to the dogs on this day. This day cherishes the relationship between dogs and humans.

Dog get special treatment everywhere on this day. People believe that dogs have a unique role in Hindu mythology. The mythology has depicted the dog as a “vahana” of Bhairava, an incarnation of Lord Shiva. It has also described that Yama, the God of death, also has two dogs to guard the Naraka(Hell). Thus people also call this day as Naraka Chaturdashi.

Day 3: Gai Tihar, Laxmi Puja (Goddess of Wealth Worshipping)

The third day of Deepawali is Gai Tihar or Laxmi Puja. A cow also carries great significance in the Hindu community. People believe that they had made a fortune from the milk of cow in ancient times. Thus people take cow as the incarnation of prosperity and wealth. Thus people express their feeling towards the cow by performing puja and feeding delicious food to the cows.

Inviting Goddess Laxmi

People clean their houses on this day. They decorate their doorways with marigolds and other types of flowers. They decorate their house with different electrical lights and diyas. People do this to invite goddess Laxmi to their home. People believe that on this day, the goddess of wealth and prosperity visits their house. So to make their house stand out among the crowd, people try their best to decorate their home and invite goddess Laxmi.

Deusi Bhailo

This day also signifies the beginning of unique activity that goes by the name Deusi Bhailo. People perform different activities like singing and dances in the courtyard of other people and collect money, foods, and fruits from these houses. People cook exceptional kinds of food on this day called selroti.

Deusi Bhailo
Deusi Bhailo

It is such a sight to see at night of Deepawali. You can see people performing at every different house.  Nowadays, even social workers and people visit local homes to showcase their performances to raise funds for social activities and welfare.

We can also hear and see people exploding and playing with crackers. We can find different crackers in the market available. These crackers range from light to explosive. They range from ordinary crackers that you can enjoy in hand to rocket crackers that go to the sky and explode with much intensity.

Day 4: Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja, Maha Puja

This day falls on the fourth day of Deepawali. On this day, different communities perform different pujas. Some community performs puja to the ox by providing different foods to them. Any community following Vaishnavism perform Govardhan Puja. They take cow dung as representative of Govardhan mountain.

In the Newar community, people perform Mha Puja. It is a puja in which people worship themselves.

Day 5: Bhai Tika

It is the fifth day of Deepawali. This day demarcates the bond between the sister and brother. The sister performs puja on their brother by putting tika, garland, and performing the rituals.

Bhai TIka TIhar
Bhai TIka

This day according to Hindu Mythology, remembers the day when  Yama, ruler of hell, paid a visit to the Yamuna. She then placed the tika and garland on her brother, and they ate sweets and delicious food together.

Conclusion

People consider Tihar as a great festival. They perform different activities, as mentioned. However, some of the events become troublesome for others. Especially the action of burning crackers should be done in a civilized way. Some maniac burns cracker without thinking much, resulting in firing and other disasters.

Some people even get troubled due to the noise caused by burning crackers late at night. Thus people should consider society and should refrain from performing any unnecessary activities.