Sunday, October 19, 2008

Tihar Festival

Tihar (तिहार) is a five-day Nepalese festival celebrated in late autumn, which comes soon after Dashain. One of these days incorporates the Hindu festival Deepavali Although all ethnic groups celebrate it, the Newars in particular celebrate it in a certain way.

Crows, Dogs, Cows, Laxmi - the Goddess of Wealth are worshipped in this festival. In the final day, sisters worship brothers for their long lives.

Kag Puja

The first day of Tihar is known as Kag Puja, or Worship of Crows. The crows are fed early in the morning

Kukur Puja

The second day is called Kukur Puja, - Khicha Puja by the Newars - or Worship of Dogs. This is to worship the animal representative of a particular god.

Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja

On the morning of the third day is Gai Puja, where the Nepalese worship cows, an animal sacred to the Hindus as it is the animal representative of Laxmi. In the evening is Laxmi Puja, to worship the goddess of wealth.

Gobhardan Puja and Maha Puja

On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas. Most perform Goru Puja, or Worship of Oxen. People who follow Krishna perform Gobardhan Puja, which is worship towards Cowdung. Cowdung is seen as very useful in Nepal, as in the olden days it was used for everything from light at night (Methane) to polish for the mud floors of traditional houses. The Newar community on the night of this day do Maha Puja, or Worship of Self. Because this period is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat, or the new year of Nepalese especially commemorated by Newars, it ensures prosperity for the new year.

The third and fourth day of Tihar is especially famous for DEUSI AND BHAILO, light and fireworks. Deusi and Bhailo are the songs which have only been sung on those Tihar days. Social workers, young and children visit local homes by singing those songs, and in return the homeowners give them money, fruit, rice and bread (Selroti, a special type of bread made by rice flour and sugar).

Bhai Tika

The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika, a day where sisters put "Tika" on forehead of brothers, to ensure long life, and thank them for the protection they give.

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