Tihar is the second biggest festival of Nepal after Dashain. The festival is celebrated for five days. The most important aspect of the festival is the acceptance of animals and birds as the integral part of the ecosystem. The festival also shows the cultural significance of animals and birds in Nepal.
The first day is dedicated for all birds represented by not-so-beautiful, not-so-pleasent sounding bird – crow. The second day is the day of four-legged-animals – represented by dog. Among animals, people don’t usually benefit from dog. Dog is considered a friend.
Then the third day is the day of another four-legged-animal, cow. Cow is very beneficial for people. In the traditional vegetarian society, cow milk is the main source of nutrients. Fourth is the day of ox. Oxen help human in plowing land and grow food. In Newar community, Mha puja is performed. The worshiping of self is an unique way of appreciating oneself.
5 Days of Tihar:
Kaag Tihar (Crow’s Day)
Kukur Tihar (Dog’s Day)
Gai Tihar, Laxmi Puja, Deepawali (Cow’s Day)
Govardan Puja, Mha Puja
On the first day, crow is worshiped and fed. Although crow is of no particular importance, it is believed to bring news to the people. While worshiping the bird people ask it to bring good news.
On the second day of Tihar, domesticated dogs are worshiped. Dog is one of the most faithful domestic animal. Dogs have been kept at homes to befriend and keep home safe. Dogs usually bark when strangers approach and scare them away.
Laxmi Pooja (Gai Tihar, Diwali)
The third day of Tihar is a special day among Himdu. It is one of the biggest festival in India. The day is the day of the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. On the day, homes are cleaned, decorated with flowers and lights are lit up. Goddess Laxmi is believed to like brightly lit homes. On the day people also play cards in an attempt to bring in some Laxmi.
One of the most popular practice of Tihar among youngsters is to go door-to-door to sing Deusi & Bhaili. It is like Trick-or-Treating during Halloween in western world. On Deepawali, girls play Bhaili and the next day is the day of boys, Deusi. These days, the discrimination has been erased and both boys and girls go for Bhaili and Deusi.
Fourth Day of Tihar – Govardhan Pooja
Gobhardhan is a hill that Lord Krishna lifted to keep the residents of his village during a heavy downpour. On the day, Gobhardhan hill is worshiped. The people of Newar community perform a self-worship ceremony called Mha Pooja.
The last and the most important day of Tihar is the fifth day, Bhai Tika. In Bhaitika, sisters offer Tika to their brothers and brothers do the same to their sisters. Brothers offer gifts and presents to their sisters and sisters also give foods and presents to their brother.