Tihar Festival in Nepal is another auspicious festival for Nepalese after the biggest festival in Nepal, Dashain. The five-day festival is also called the Festival of Lights and Colors, known to honor Yama, the God of Death. Tihar is popularly known as the Deepawali as well these days. The festival normally falls at the end of October to the 1st week of November in the Solar Calendar. This festival continues for five days and people honor/worship the crow, dog, cow, and ox as well as Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Numerous candles, lights, and sacred candles will be lit up for the Goddess Laxmi and all around the house as well.
This festival is also another way to gather, especially the brothers and sisters. They prepare a variety of foods and decorate their house with lamps, lights, and colors and people come to play Deusi-Bhailo as well. Deusi-Bhailo normally likes cultural programs, they perform dances, sing, and give blessings to the house and its owner. This year, the festival starts on the 11th of November and ends on the 15th of November.
Why is the Tihar Festival celebrated?
Tihar festival is all about the Yama, the God of Death, and his sister the Yamuna. They both used to stay far from each other for a long time and the Yamuna used to send messages to Yama through the cow. In the end, she went to his brother Yama and she worshipped him with flowers, tika, and some gifts. The Yamuna circled Yama with mustard oil, Colorful flowers, and Dubo (Cynodon Dactylon), and put Makhamali mala ( garland of Globe Amaranth) on his neck. She also put five different colors of Tika on the forehead of Yama and gave some delicious food and gifts. So, every sister worships her brothers following the same process every year for the long life and prosperity of their brothers.
Why is Tihar called the Festival of Lights?
Tihar is one of the greatest festivals celebrated in Nepal which is also known as Deepavali or Diwali. It is known as the “Festival of Lights' because of the widespread use of colorful lights, oil lamps, candles, and fireworks during the celebration of this festival. Tihar is celebrated in honor of different aspects of life, including the Goddess of Wealth: Laxmi, and the god of death: Yama. The colorful lights are lit to symbolize the triumph of good over evil as well as the victory of light over darkness. Houses, streets, and public places are decorated with flowers and colorful lights, oil lamps, and candles throughout the 5- days of the festival creating a festive and joyful atmosphere. The lighting of lamps is not only a way to ward off evil spirits but also a symbol of welcoming happiness and prosperity into one’s life.
Tihar Special Foods
- Sel Roti: It is a sweet deep-fried ring-shaped dough made from rice flour. It is a traditional snack-like dish which is prepared at special festivals and often at weddings.
- Fini: It is a fried flatbread dipped in sugar syrup and served during Tihar.
- Malpua: It is a small and sweet deep-fried pancake filled with fruits and nuts.
- Anarsa: It is a type of deep-fried rice cookie sprinkled with castor sugar on top.
How is the Tihar Festival celebrated in Nepal?
On the first day of Tihar, people worship crow. In our culture crow is considered the messenger of bad news, so people worship the crow and offer food, grains, and sweets. So, to prevent the different bad news around the year, people feed crows on the first day of the Tihar.
On the second day of the Tihar festival, people normally feed dogs which are also considered as the agent of Yama. Also, people worship dogs as a symbol of loyalty towards human beings. They put tika on the forehead of the dog along with the garland on the back of the dogs and offer a variety of food to them.
On the third of the Tihar festival, people worship cows (Gai) and Laxmi puja in the evening. This day is special among all the days during Tihar. The cow is also the national animal of Nepal and it’s sacred to the Hindu religion. People offer cows by putting tika and garland and offer their favorite foods along with their favorite grasses.
Also, after worshiping cows, people clean their houses and their surroundings and decorate them with flowers, candles, and lights for the Laxmi puja (goddess of wealth). People worship goddess Laxmi to thank all the wealth and resources given to them and their families in the past years and they wish for the further prosperity of their life. During the evening, girls from the community and clubs organize the Bhailo program in different homes and perform cultural dances and signings. The house owner offers food, money, and sweets and the Bhailo team gives blessings for the prosperity of the family.
On the fourth day of the Tihar festival, people celebrate Ox and also called a Goru Puja. People who are devoted to Vaishnavism do Govardhan Puja who use cow dung to make Govardhan mountains and worship it. Likewise, in the Newari community, people perform Mha Puja (self-worshipping festival in Nepal). Also, this day is the beginning of the Nepal Sambat Calendar according to the Newari community. Besides this, boys, girls, and other local communities perform the Deusi program in their neighbors. The boys chant some stories regarding the Tihar festival and sing a song supported by other members of the group. The family later offers some gifts, food, and money and in return, the Deusi team gives a blessing for the prosperity of the family.
The last day or the fifth day of the Tihar festival is Bhai Tika. This is a special day for the brothers and sisters where the sister puts a Tika on the forehead of the brother and gives blessings for the prosperity and long life of their brothers. The brothers offer some gifts and money to their sisters along with delicious food and end the festival in a good mood. Bhaitika falls on 15th Nov 2023.
People play cards, eat a variety of festivals, participate in the Deusi-Bhailo program, play kites, and swing around decorating houses with lots of colorful lights, candles, and flowers is the main attraction of the Tihar festival.
This year Tihar starts on 11th November, 2023. Happy Tihar to Everyone !!!