Dipawali, the second most important festival in Nepal is a five-day event celebrated with the worship of different animals to appease the Gods respectively. Food, flowers, prayers, singing, dancing and happiness. Families are busy cleaning the whole house, washing and sanitizing to get ready for the occasion, though it’s a five-day event, starts like weeks prior. Now that we’ve talked about the days, Let’s see what these five days consist of.
Starting with Kaag Tihar, we celebrate Crows and Ravens that are considered as messengers of death. By feeding the crows, devotees hope to appease them and ward off death and grief for the coming year.
Then comes the Kukur Tihar, where we celebrate dogs for their loyalty, service and companionship. Dogs in Hinduism have a great history in Mahabharata as well.
We celebrate Gai Tihar and Lakshmi Puja on the third day. In the morning it’s called Gai Tihar. We worship the cow, feed them and put tika on, and put a garland of marigolds. The cow has a special place in Hinduism.
A special puja is offered to Lakshmi in the evening, wishing for wealth, prosperity and good health. Lakshmi is welcomed into homes that have been cleaned and decorated with garlands made out of marigolds, diyas are set all around the home, and while electric lights are draped over houses in the belief that the goddess will not visit dark homes.
Govardhan puja and Mha Puja, on the fourth day Ox, is worshipped as an analogy to Cow, that provides manual labour to cultivate land especially in Agricultural countries like Nepal. It’s a gesture of gratitude. This puja is worshipped towards the holy Govardhan mountain. A pile of cow dung is taken as representative of the mountain and worshipped.
And the Mha Puja is popular in the Newar community. Mha Puja is a unique tradition where the self and the soul within is worshipped.
The fifth day of Tihar is called Vai Tika. On this auspicious day, sisters put tika on their brothers. The seven colours in the forehead one by one, followed by a beautiful marigold garland, exchange of gifts and delicious foods. Wishing long life and preventing a god of death, Yama from reaching them, Vai tika holds the most value overall.
Legend has it that when King Bali fell mortally ill, his sister Jamuna looked after him and guarded him. When Yamaraj, the God of Death, came for Bali Hang’s soul, Jamuna pleaded with him to wait until she finished worshipping her brother; that is, until Panchami (Bhai Tika). She then conducted a long and elaborate ceremony for her brother and performed the same for Yamaraj. She also put forth some conditions: that Yamaraj should not take Bali Hang until the tika, which she had smeared on his forehead, fades away; until the water sprinkled on her brother dries; and until the Makhmali flowers wilt. Over the years Yamaraj sent his messengers to inspect the flowers, and when the next Bhai Tika puja arrived Yamaraj admitted that he had lost Bali Hang’s soul to his pious sister and granted him a long life.
During these five days of the festival, young boys and girls go around the neighbourhood, singing and dancing in a tradition called bhailo. They are offered small amounts of money and food as rewards for the entertainment they provide. Fireworks are also common on this particular day. Singing, dancing, gatherings, sharing happiness, warmth and love are all Tihar is about.
Stay home, stay safe.
Happy Tihar from the WiSTEAM team.