Posted on 18th , October No Comments

Tihar – Praying for Prosperity & Long Life

Tihar – Praying for Prosperity & Long Life

Following closely on the heels of Dashain (one of the biggest Hindu festivals celebrated in Nepal), is Tihar a celebration that involves lights, fire-crackers, music, feasting, merry making and prayers for prosperity and long life. Tihar or Deepawali the ‘festival of lights’, stretches over five days and is dedicated to Lakshmi, the Hindu Goddess of prosperity and wealth, and Yamaraj, the God of Death.

The first two days of the festival, Kaag Tihar and Kukkur Tihar, involve the worship of crows and dogs. Crows are regarded as messengers of death, while dogs are the gatekeepers to hell. They are worshiped so that grief, death and disease will stay away from one’s life. On the third day Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity is worshiped. Homes are cleaned and lighted up to welcome the goddess. It is believed that the goddess of prosperity stays away from dark and unkempt spaces. Young girls play Bhailinee in groups. They dress up and visit homes singing and dancing. The homeowners are blessed by singing traditional songs while the latter show their gratitude by offering dakshina (money) and sweets to the group.

On the fourth day, Goru or Govardhan puja is held. Ox, the vehicle of Yamaraj is worshiped. Devotees of Lord Krishna make a small mound of cow dung and worship it. According to Hindu legend, Lord Krishna saved the people of Brij from incessant rain by holding aloft a mountain of cow dung. Young boys and men go around singing Deusi songs playing traditional instruments and dancing to folk tunes at the squares or at the homes of  friends and neighbours. This day is also celebrated as the first day of the New Year by the Newar community. They observe the ‘Mha Puja’ on this day. Mha Puja is the worship of self or one’s soul/spirit. Newars believe that the human body is a sacred vessel which should be cleansed and purified during ‘Mha Puja’.

On the fifth day Bhai Tika is observed. Bhai Tika celebrates the special bond between brothers and sisters. Sisters pray for the well-being of their brothers by applying tika on their (brothers’) foreheads and receive gifts in return.

(Image source: Flickr, Nikita Lamichhane)

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