Tihar – Dipawali (दीपावली)
Tihar, Bhai Tika, Dipawali, Yamapanchak, Diwali, Laxmi puja are often used interchangeably to mean Tihar. The essence of Tihar lies in the traditional way of celebration and ancient stories that compels us to believe and continue the amazing culture of celebration. Tihar is celebrated for five days with a great significance of each day. Dipawali signifies victory of light over darkness, good over evil, knowledge over ignorance and hope over despair.
Based on legends the festival is celebrated remembering Yamuna’s (a sister) dedication and prayer to protect her brother from the God of death, Yamaraj. To prevent Yamaraj from taking her brother’s life, she performed a five-day ritual. The very first day she worshiped crow, the messenger of Yamaraj, on the second-day “dog”, the carrier of Yamaraj. On the third day, she worshipped Goddess Laxmi for the prosperity of the family along with cow as a representation of Goddess. The next day she prepared a large variety of dishes to offer to Yamaraj as a symbol of appreciation Govardhana puja which is also known as Annakut (Mountain of food). And the final day is Bhai Tika, Yamuna worshipped and fasted for her brother. She prepared garland of Glove Amaranth flower (commonly known as Makhamali phool and Supari phool), A flower that never wears out, along with oil, Dubo (evergreen perennial green grass), Walnut Tika for the protection and most importantly Saptarangi Tika (Pigments of 7 different colors). She Broke Walnut before the ritual to constrict external bodies and bad omen from entering the house. She performed and created the ritual with much dedication and asked Yamaraj not to take her brother’s life until the garland of Makhamali wears out. By her efforts, Yamaraj was so impressed that he let her brother live a peaceful life. She set an example of true love. and the same tradition continues even today.
1Kaag Tihar ( काग तिहार )- Day 1
The very first day is crow Tihar. Crow is regarded as the messenger of Yamaraj. Crow is worshipped and feed with a belief, it will bring good news. The tradition of creating multiple sounds of birds and gathering birds at Tudhikhel is also popular in recent years in Nepal.
2Kukur Tihar (कुकुर तिहार ) - Day 2
The second day of the delighted festival is Kukur Tihar (Dog puja) in which dogs are worshipped. Dogs are treated with delicious food, and Mala is put in their head acknowledging the relationship between the dogs and the humans.
In Hindu mythology, Dogs are considered to be watchers of the gate of Hell ( in Hindu mythology it is a place where human soul resides after death if one has done any bad deeds in their life).
3Laxmi Puja and Gai Tihar (गाइ तिहार & लक्ष्मी पुजा )- Day 3
The cow is our national animal and is considered as the symbol of Goddess Laxmi as well. The house is well cleaned and decorated by flower garlands. Using red mud and rice flour, A path is drawn for welcoming Goddess laxmi to the house which leades to every room in the house and finally ends at Puja Ghar. At the evening Laxmi is worshipped and diyo (oil lamp that uses a cotton wick and oil for lighting, usually made of clay or metals) lightning starts from the main entrance, the steps for Laxmi, each and every room to the home temple where Laxmi puja has set. The view from the roof top is so overwhelming. The whole valley looks like a bridal home and the view is so lovely. Group of girls dressed in traditional attire singing and dancing in bhailo visit houses asking for Sidha and they offer warm wishes. The whole family enjoys with the bhailo team by dancing along with the group. Preparation of delicious sweets, selroti and such varieties to offer Goddess and to give as a Sagun(gift given in good faith with well wish) to siblings is also an ongoing process till the next day. The colorful evening, the sound of firecrackers, the sound of bhailo and prayers create a joyful environment during the day and at night on the day of Laxmi Puja. The main diyo led at the Laxmi Puja set should be kept glowing till the day of Bhai Tika.
4Govardhan Puja (गोवर्धन पुजा ) - Day 4
The delight of fourth-day is Deusi (a traditional song sung by a group of boys) and all the prior preparation for the Bhai Tika. Sisters prepare the gifts, sweets, fruits, Selroti, chocolates, all other food items in a package for each brother. Garlands are prepared by plucking flowers from the garden. Makhamali flower is most preferred one, there is a belief that the life and health of siblings will stay as good as the Makhamali flower. In the evening, the group of boys and girls gather to sing Deusi in typical style to exchange wishes and have fun.
According to Nepali Calendar, this day is also celebrated as the New Year of Nepal Sambat.the tradition of Nepal Sambat started in 879 A.D In Newari culture, there is a tradition of “Mah Puja”, meaning self-puja which is also celebrated on the evening of the very day.
5Bhai Tika (भाइ टिका ) - Day 5
The final and most important day of Tihar is Bhai Tika when siblings celebrate their relationship in the form of long-lived tradition. Siblings put Saptarangi Tika ( seven colored Tika) on each other’s forehead. The seven colored Tika implies colorful, happening and vibrant life.
7 colors of Tihar Tika
The base color is white which is prepared by making a paste out from wet rice grains soaked for an hour in Silauto( traditional hand grinder).
On the top of white colors these Tika are added:
Okhar Tika (Made from Walnut inner by burning on fire and making a paste.)
Dubo green (Made from Dubo grass after cleaning and making a paste.)
Til Tika ( Black sesame seed on the bottom of long Tika)
Those without a brother or sister joins close relatives or friends for Tika.
There is no particular way of celebrating this delightful festival but kites, sweets, worship, fire-crackers, colorful lights, traditional Deusi and Bhailo are the essence that is incorporated in the celebration for any families.