Nepal, one of the smallest countries in the world that is barely visible in the world map is known to the entire world for its rich culture. With a huge population density, Nepal boasts a wide variety of castes, creeds and ethnicities within a very small area which allows for a unified and harmonious lifestyle with festivals celebrated all year round by the entire country .
Once a trend begins in Nepal, it just keeps growing and blooming and its festivals are no exception. As the major festival of the country, Dashain continues for fifteen days, and another major festival, Tihar, starts within a fortnight. Also known as the festival of lights or Deepawali, Tihar also falls in the month of Oct-November. So, it is no surprise that as celebrations begin in Dashain they continue till the end of Tihar.
Tihar festival in Nepal is a very important part of Nepalese culture and society as it symbolizes happiness, unity and harmony among all the people. The entire country is adorned with colorful decorations, electric lights and oil lamps for the entire duration of the festival. The festival is an enriching experience not just because of the celebrations but also how it worships various animals to acknowledge their contributions to our lives.
Kaag Tihar in Nepal
It is the first day of the festival when crows are fed delicious food .According to myths, crows were used as messengers in ancient times and they inform us about unfortunate events likely to happen in the future. So, crows are worshipped to avoid bad luck and mishaps.
Kukur Tihar in Nepal
Dogs are undoubtedly one of the best things to happen to humans. They are a symbol of faithfulness and true friendship and have been admired throughout time for being a man’s best friend. In order to acknowledge and appreciate the influence of dogs in our lives, they are worshipped with garlands and provided with delicious meals as they guard our homes and lives.
Laxmi Puja in Nepal
It is the third and most important day of the festival. Cows as the vehicle (mount) of Goddess Laxmi are worshipped early in the morning on this day. They are worshipped as they help humans sustain life on earth by providing their milk as nourishment to us.
On this day, the night is very dark and it is believed that whoever keeps their houses clean and decorates with bright lights is visited and blessed by Goddess Laxmi. Houses are thoroughly cleaned and doors and windows are decorated with Marigold and chrysanthemums. A path is paved with red mud from the entrance of the house to all the rooms and symbolic footprints of Laxmi are made signifying her visit to the house. Goddess Laxmi is the goddess of wealth and is believed to bring wealth and prosperity to the people. The houses and shops are decorated with beautiful lights, diyos, paper hangings and rangolis. Girls visit the neighborhood homes singing songs and dancing called Bhailo asking for the homes to be blessed with wealth and prosperity and are gifted Selroti, money etc in return .
Gobardhan Puja in Nepal
On the fourth day, oxen are worshipped as vehicles of Gods. Gobar (cow dung) is worshipped as a symbol of Gobardhan Mountain that was mentioned in the Mahabharata, a Hindu epic. Newars in the country conduct Mha Puja on this day which is worshipping of the self which is believed to purify and empower the soul. This day also marks the beginning of Nepal Sambat or Newari New Year. Boys visit homes singing songs and dancing and it is called Deusi, the male version of Bhailo.
The final day of the festival is dedicated towards brothers and is celebrated with delicious meals, games and quality time with siblings. It is believed that Yamaraj, God of death visited his sister on this day and had a very good time and so declared that nothing bad would happen to brothers on this day that put tika from their sisters. Various garlands, flowers, sweets, delicacies and gifts are used to celebrate brothers and their importance in our lives. The tika and chrysanthemum garlands are believed to ensure the safety and long lives of the brothers. In return, brothers gift their sisters and the day is spent enjoying with families.
The five day long festival concludes with different activities and importance on each day. The festival is special for how it expresses gratitude towards the animals that add value to our daily lives. The festival is a beautiful depiction of how Hindu culture respects and emphasizes on family, traditions, harmony, religion and relationships. Tihar is one of the most fun ways to experience the Nepali life when all Nepalese come together for a celebration of happiness.