What are the 5 days of Tihar in Nepal: – Tihar is one of the most important and biggest festivals for Hindus in Nepal. The Tihar festival takes place in late autumn and lasts for five days. Tihar is also called Deepawali, Yamapanchak, Svanti, etc.
As, the word Tihar comes from Urdu and Yamapanchakh has a Nepalese origin. This festival is also called a festival of lights, because during this festival people illuminate their houses, streets, neighborhoods, towns, villages, cities, with as many lights as possible.
On the fourth day of this festival, the people of Newar community celebrate their New Year’s Day, the young people perform Dyausi and bhailo (dances with special songs) on the third and fourth day of this festival. On the night of Laxmi puja, unmarried girls sing and dance bhailo, go to their neighbors where they are treated with delicious meals, while the same night the men perform dyausi.
During this festival, Yama, the god of death is invoked, so it is called Yamapanchak or five days dedicated to Yama. People assume that during these five days, Yama descends into this world.
See Also: What Are The 5 Days of Diwali in India
On the first and second day of this festival, Yama’s messengers, crow and the dog are worshiped. On the third day, the cow is worshiped. On the fourth day, the ox is worshiped or the self is worshiped (Maha puja). On the fifth day, there is a celebration of special relationship between brother and sister.
Today we are here with the more information about 5 days of Tihar. Hoping after reading this article, you will get to know more about festival Tihar.
What Are The 5 Days Of Tihar Festival in Nepal?
Kag Tihar – First Day of Tihar Festival
The first day of the festival, people worship and feed the crows. Each family cooks a delicious meal in the morning. Before eating, each family member puts some food on a plate of leaves and places it outside for the crow to eat. They worship crows to keep the sadness away.
People believe that crows are the messengers of the Lord of Death. They are supposed to carry messages from close relatives and friends from faraway places. People assume that crows are delivering these messages while they cawing. Depending on that crow’s voice, people guess if they are delivering a good or bad message.
When he caws near the house with a sweet voice, this is taken as a good message. Sometimes, the cawing is also taken as an announcement of the imminent arrival of some guests. However, if the sound is rough, it is supposed to be an indication that something bad is going to happen.
People believe that when someone dies, the deceased soul finds its temporary refuge in a crow. At least during the first ten days of the mourning period after a death, the deceased soul is supposed to reside in a crow.
Every morning, during the first ten days of the period of mourning, the chief mourner must perform Shraddha offering a ball of rice (Pinda) and food to the crows on behalf of the deceased person.
2. Dog puja – Second Day of Tihar Festival
On the second day, people worship dogs with garlands of flower around their neck. They give the dogs a delicious meal and put a red tika (a special powder) on their forehead. They pray for dogs to take care of their homes. Dogs with flower garlands can be seen everywhere on this day.
The day is actually dedicated to please dogs. Not only companion dogs, even wandering dogs, are respected and worshiped with garlands and delicacies. In Nepal, keeping dogs as pets is very common and there are also many stray dogs.
On this day, from early in the morning, people are seen worshiping dogs in the streets. Dogs are considered to be the guards at the gates of Yama’s place and people believe that their worship helps the soul pass at the time of death. Like crows, dogs are supposed to be an abode for the recently deceased.
The chief mourner performs Shraddha to offer pinda and food to dogs on behalf of the deceased person during the first ten days after someone’s death, just as he does to crows. Even when stray dogs enter a deceased person’s house, they are not supposed to scare them away because people believe that a dead person visits their house disguised as a dog.
Dogs are also considered as the vehicle of the fearful god Bhairav and Nasadyo, the god of dance and drama. The worshipping of dog by the people reflects the strong relationship between human and dog. Praising this important and best tradition, this day is celebrated in various parts of world in recent years.
3. Laxmi Puja – Third Day of Tihar Festival
The third day, Laxmi puja is the most important day of the festival. The cow is considered to be the representation of Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. On the third day of the festival, the cow is worshipped and fed generously. Early in the morning, people visit a place where a cow can be found or request to bring a cow home for a puja.
People believe that worshipping a cow brings them a good fortune. They attach sacred threads that they had received from the Brahmins on the day of janai Purnima in the tail of the cow and believe that this act allows them to receive the support of the cow while crossing the Baitarani River after death, which is said to create frightening barriers for sinful men.
Giving a cow as a gift to Brahmin is a religious task for Hindus that allows them to reach heaven after their death. For them, the cow is the most sacred animal and its five products; Milk, curd, butter, urine and manure which are considered pure objects.
On the same day at night, after the worship of the cow, people worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. For this occasion, the houses are cleaned and decorated with lights to receive her.
Laxmi has been represented as the sum of beauty and betterment. Since ancient times, the meaning and interpretation of Laxmi has been enormous and broad. Eight or sixteen names are invoked to please her during her worship.
The preparation for the worship of Laxmi begins early in the morning in each home by smearing each floor with cow dung mixed with red clay and water. A line of cow dung and red clay leads from the front of the house to the secret shrine of Laxmi.
This is to let the goddess Laxmi find her way to the place of worship so that she can grant wealth on them there. They also decorate the doors of houses and paint them with colored powders, especially in shops. Those who own a shop outside their home, worship laxmi in their shop first, then join their family to worship laxmi at home.
As soon as the sun sets, each family begins to decorate each door and window of their house with Diya in doors and windows. Today, many families also decorate their homes with colored electric bulbs. But it is believed that Laxmi visit the home where diyas are lightened.
In each house, Laxmi is kept in a secret place of worship. All family members must join in the worship. A female family member performs a special ceremony or puja. Then she places a red mud footprint on the floor that enters the house and makes a path to the room where the family worships the goddess.
In this room, there are photos and an icon of the goddess. There is also a money box where every year the family saves money for the goddess. The ingredients of worship are generally red and yellow powders, rice, busted rice, incense, yogurt, flowers, garlands of threads, fruits, sweets and other food products.
Old and new coins, gold, money, silver and all the treasures of the house are exhibited to receive worship on the occasions. At least one new coin must be offered to laxmi or added to stores. New utensils, weighing objects, new grains, measuring objects are also worshipped.
At night, the girls go from door to door of their neighbors’ houses and sing songs for the goddess (Bhailo). In return, house owner provide them sweets, rotis and money. Bhaili girls give many blessings to the owner of the home while returning.
Offering grains of the new crop to laxmi is an essential ritual on this occasion because people must offer the cereals before consuming them themselves. They believe that laxmi is the goddess of the grain whose blessing is necessary to obtain good harvests.
The main reason to honor laxmi is to achieve her blessing to increase wealth and prosperity. People worship her every day because they believe that this worship brings them a great fortune.
After worship, follows family feasts. Each food is first offered to the goddess before the family eats themselves. For three nights, Laxmi’s presence is assured by keeping her in the same place and worshiping her every day with great respect.
Gambling that is legally prohibited during other times of the year starts from the day of laxmi puja and lasts three days and three nights. People believe that the gambling is auspicious, which could bring them good fortune.
Importance of lamp lighting.
In Hindu culture, light is a powerful metaphor of knowledge and consciousness. It is a reminder of the preciousness of education, self-inquiry and improvement, which bring harmony to the individual, the community and between communities.
By honoring the light, we affirm the fact that from knowledge arises respect and acceptance of others. The lighting of the lamps reminds Hindus that they must follow the right path, dispel the darkness of their hearts and minds and embrace knowledge and goodness.
Importance of crackers
All simple Tihar rituals have a meaning and a story behind them. The houses are illuminated with lights and firecrackers fill the skies as an expression of respect to the heavens for the achievement of health, wealth, knowledge, peace and prosperity.
According to one belief, the sound of firecrackers indicates the joy of people living on earth, making the gods aware of their abundant state. Also, the fumes produced by firecrackers kill or repel many insects, including mosquitoes, which abound after the rains.
Rangoli and symbolism
Ours is the culture of “Athiti Devo Bhava”, which means “Guest is God”. So, what can be better than rangoli to express this cultural mannerism and hospitality that we have by tradition? The formation of an ideal rangoli art demands the attentive use of the vibrant rangoli colors.
Rangoli is of two main types:
- Dominant form: In this type of rangoli, lines, cones and circles are drawn proportionally.
- Ornamental: In this type of rangoli, importance is given to flowers, leaves, trees, vines, animals and birds. This rangoli is considered more attractive than the dominant form.
Bright colors are used in this art that are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also fundamentally therapeutic and have many meanings behind them.
The meaning of the colors.
- WHITE: purity, freshness and safety
- RED: strength and energy
- YELLOW: wealth
- ORANGE: sacrifice
- GREEN: harmony and balance, nature
- BLUE: immensity and happiness, peace.
Essence of the color red.
In Indian culture, red has the greatest importance in all religions. Red dust, or vermilion, is considered pious, and red flowers have brought love and hope in human relationships. For a woman, the color red has always mesmerized them.
The red color of a sunset, of a rose, of any beautifully woven clothes has played a role in them as the passionate, patient, energetic and creative woman they are.
Red helps to highlight the creative side of them by evoking positive magnetism and enthusiasm. Color is a point of attraction and attracts attention. It is a strong color that emits emotion and vitality, and evokes a feeling of physical attraction.
4. Gobardhan Puja / Maha Puja – Forth Day of Tihar Festival
The fourth day is a bit different. The things that people love on this day depend on their cultural background. Most people worship the mountain of cow and ox dung.
They put tika in the oxen and a garland around their necks. They also give them delicious food. Other people make a small hill from the cow dung, put some grass on it and perform a special ceremony, or puja, on it. However, other people worship themselves and this tradition is called Maha puja.
Mahapuja is one of the oldest traditions in Nepal. It is older than that of the Nepal era. One of King of Licchavi known as Mandev started this festival. Since the 1950s, the Newar community began celebrating New Year’s Day of the Nepal era as a public event.
In maha puja, the people of Newar community perform mahapuja to all the deities located in their neighborhood before performing at night on the top floor of the house. The floor is cleaned and smeared with cow dung and red clay.
Then, a mandala, a cosmic circle of flour is drawn for each person. Mandalas are also drawn for those family members who are absent and for the guests who are present on the occasion.
They also draw a mandala on behalf of three hundred and thirty million deities, of Yama, of his messenger and of Shiva’s messenger and for household items such as broom, oats, grinding stone, mortar, pestle, measuring pot, water container and earthen pitcher.
In the center of the mandala, a small oil mandala is drawn. Then, the red powder, the flowers, popped and husked rice are showered over the mandala.
To the person sitting in front of the mandala, a small kind of rice pastry, nuts, wild lime, chestnuts, incense, common citron, threads, citrus fruit, flower garlands and long wicks are placed around a mandala to be delivered. To the extent possible, all family members sit in a single row in front of one’s mandala, facing east.
Facing the south it is believed to be inauspicious. The eldest member of the house sits at the head of the row, then his young, unmarried daughters and other women sit according to seniority.
The eldest member worship a small lamp that contains a Ganesh figure before beginning other ritual activities. All other family members throw a few grains of rice at Ganesh in a gesture of worship. Then the eldest women of the house put a tika on everyone’s forehead; Other elder women help her in a handling over the fruits.
The person who is thus blessed throws some grains of rice over these things in a gesture of worship. Everyone should light their long wicks (Kheluita) and place them on their own mandala. This act can be seen as the real moment of worshiping oneself.
The elder woman pours worship items in each person’s mandala, and then also pours them three times over each person’s body. This is to wish the person worshipper’s good, health, prosperity and happiness. Then, fruits, thread and garlands are handed over.
Towards the end of the ceremony, the worshiped people receive sagam, a ritual blessing that consists of a boiled egg, a fish, pieces of boiled lentils and bread made of lentils along with liquor to wish them happy and prosperous days. Before the ritual ends, pieces of tahsi and other fruits are eaten.
Walnuts, tahsi, kheluita and mandala are the crucial elements of the ceremony. The mandala represents the worshiped person, the kheluita as his life, the tahsi as his purity and the walnut as his strength. It is necessary to keep the kheluite lighted until worship ends.
It is considered a bad sign if it is extinguished during the ritual, because people link the light with the life of a person. The Mahapuja ceremony ends with the sweeping of the mandala decorated simultaneously from the bottom to the top and from the top down.
After sweeping away the mandala, the ceremony ends and a family feasts then begins to mark the end of the Mahapuja celebration.
By celebrating Mahapuja, people anticipate a successful and prosperous life over the next year. Worship is also supposed to provide people with good health and a long life.
The way to celebrate this festival may vary from one family to another, but the meaning of the celebration is not understood differently. If a person lives alone, he must perform mahapuja himself.
Self-worship means recognizing a god in oneself. Mahapuja’s celebration indicates that the one who realizes his abilities can turn himself into god. Being god means being able to sacrifice for the welfare of others.
During the Mahapuja, the charitable demon king Bali raj is also worshiped. A myth tells that the god Vishnu pushed him to the Patal to prevent him from conquering the heaven. But the power of his vow of giving gifts, Bali Raj was about to conquer the heaven.
This alarmed all the gods, so one day the disguised Vishnu arrived at the door of Bali raj like a saint and begged for a space to take three steps. Generously, Bali Raj granted the permission to disguised Vishnu to step on wherever he wanted.
Vishnu took this opportunity to deceive the Bali raj. Vishnu covered the whole heaven with his first step and the earth with his second step, so Bali raj had nothing left nor and put his own head for the third step of Vishnu, which allowed Vishnu to push Bali raj towards Patal.
However, after this unpleasant task, Vishnu asked Bali if he had any desire, and now he asked permission to visit his kingdom once a year to see his people. Vishnu granted him the day of Mahapuja as his day on earth. This myth says that the cheerful celebration of Mahapuja is to assure King Bali raj that his people live happily in his kingdom.
5. Bhai Tika – Fifth / Last Day of Tihar Festival
The fifth day is the day of brothers and sisters. In this day, the sisters worship their brothers to provide them with health, happiness and prosperity. The sisters wish their brothers a long life and prosperity. If you don’t have a brother or sister, you can make one of your relatives or friends a brother or sister.
On this day, the sisters will perform a puja and apply a special tika to their brothers. Then, they put garlands around their brothers and give them varieties of foods and Bhai masala. The brothers in return honor their sisters; they put tika to the brothers and put garlands around their neck and give them gifts of clothes and money.
This festival finally ends after five days of cooking, decorating, eating, singing, dancing, shopping, relaxing, gifting and worshiping. There is no doubt that Tihar is the most popular festival in Nepal.
This is the last day of the five-day observance of the Yamapanchak. This festival is celebrated throughout Nepal. It is an occasion to worship younger and older brothers, but for many others it is the day of worshiping only their younger brothers.
On this day, married sisters return to their paternal homes to worship their brothers, or the brothers visit their sisters to receive worship from them. The reigning king also observes this festival by receiving tika from his sisters. Each year, an astrologer announces the most auspicious time to receive tika from sisters and people take this time to receive tika.
On the day of Bhai tika, together with the brothers, Yama and Chitragupta are worshiped. Then, mandalas are also drawn for them. The important items used on this day are walnut, tika, rice paste, flowers, kalash, diyo, oil, etc.
Myth behind celebrating Bhai Tika
The worship of the brothers by their sisters on this day is a tradition derived from the legendary worship of Yama by his younger sister Yamuna. According to the Hindu myth, Yama and Yami are sons and daughters of the sun and are twins.
Yami tried to persuade Yama to marry her, but Yama rejected the proposal of an incestuous marriage, since he was afraid of being called evil. Another myth says that on this day, a sister was preparing a adoration for her brother, but Yama, the god of death, came to take her brother because his lifespan on earth ran out.
The clever sister persuaded Yama to wait and witness the worship. She worshiped Yama along with her brother, which make returning off Yama back to Yamlok. Consequently, Yama saved her brother’s life. This myth says that she asked Yama not to take her brother until the oil mandala dried up, so the walnut-shaped flower never fades, and Yama had to give up the idea of taking his brother .
It is believed that from that time onwards, the sisters began to worship their brothers on this day believing that it will bestow them a long life. This myth makes it clear that people assume that it is possible to conquer death by worshiping Yama, the god of death.
Therefore, this occasion can be taken as a celebration of the victory of life over death.
On this day, brothers and sisters exchange gifts with each other. The sisters not only worship their brothers and bless them with happiness and a long life, but also feed them with delicious foods, fruits, sweets, chestnuts, cashews, pistachios, betel, raisins, almonds, chocolates, cinnamon and cloves . In return, the brothers give money or clothes or other items to their sisters.
The end of the worship of the brothers is considered the end of the five days of Yamapanchak, but the actual closing of the festival takes place the day after Bhai tika.
On this day, early in the morning, the final worship of laxmi is performed and the Prasad of laxmi is taken out and distributed among family members. Blessings include tika, candy, flowers, fruits and a feast. Married daughters and sisters are also invited to receive the blessings and attend the feast.
As the god of death, Yama is responsible for determining the time of death of all creatures in the world. Therefore, Yama’s dominance during this festival is clear. Unlike other festivals, the main diety of this festival has no processions, but Yama’s presence from the first day of the festival until the end is obvious.
Holding a festival in the presence of Yama, the god of death, can be considered a very risky venture. Therefore, people may have taken advantage of this festival as an opportunity to appraise Yama to receive his bliss. By worshiping Yama, people request his grant of a long life in the world and in heaven after death.
Hindus believe that, as soon as one dies, the deceased soul moves to the court of Yama. There all souls are judged, or they are granted heaven or sent to hell. Remembering, worshiping and appeasing deceased ancestors are key features of our ritual life.
The fifth day of worship of the brothers is another important day of this festival. This tradition is one of the most popular customs in South Asia. It is not only religiously significant but also significant from a social point of view, because it plays an important role in strengthening the relationship between brothers and sisters.
A balanced relationship between brothers and sisters is one of the essential aspects of Nepalese social life. Especially the relationship between married sisters and brothers is crucial.
If not handled carefully, the link can become very unpleasant. In such a situation, one can lose one’s dignity in society. The day of Bhai tika gives brothers and sisters the opportunity to maintain their relationship.
Tihar spiritual meaning
The spiritual meaning of Diwali
- Beyond lights, play and fun, Diwali is also a time to reflect on life and make changes for next year. With that, there are a number of customs that revelers appreciate every year.
- Give and forgive; It is a common practice for people to forget and forgive the mistakes made by others during Diwali. There is an air of freedom, festivity and friendship everywhere.
- Get up and shine; Waking up during the Brahma muhurta (at 4 a.m., or 1 hour and a half before dawn) is a great blessing from the point of view of health, ethical discipline, work efficiency and spiritual advancement. The sages who instituted this Tihar custom may have hope at their descendants to realize its benefits and make it a habitual habit in their lives.
- Unite and unify; Diwali is a unifying event, and can soften even the hardest hearts. It is a time when people mix with joy and embrace.
- Those with sharp inner spiritual ears will clearly hear the voice of the sages: “O children of God, unite and love all.” The vibrations produced by the greetings of love, which fill the atmosphere, are powerful.
- Prosper and progress; On this day, Hindu merchants open their new account books and pray for success and prosperity over the next year. People buy new clothes for the family. Employers also buy new clothes for their employees.
- Houses are cleaned and decorated by day and illuminated at night with mud oil lamps. The houses and temples are illuminated at night with thousands of lamps.
- This festival instills charity in the hearts of people who perform good works. This includes Govardhan Puja, a celebration of people on the fourth day of Diwali. On this day, they feed the poor people also.
- Illuminate your inner being; Diwali lights also mean a time of interior lighting. Hindus believe that the light of the lights is the one that constantly shines in the chamber of the heart. Sitting silently and fixing the mind in this supreme light illuminates the soul.
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By Poonam Neupane