Nepal's religions
Nepal's Religious Festivals
Tihar: of Deusi enthusiasts
Festivals in Nepal
Nepal's Religious Festivals
Tihar (Dipawali) festival, the second greatest festival of the Hindus after Dashain, the Kathmanduites are busy in shopping.

The shopping areas in the heart of Capital such as Ason, Indrachowk and New Road look busier these days as more people are thronging these places for the Tiharfestival shopping flower garlands, candles, electric lights, dry fruits, sweets, ghee and oil, among host of other items. The two biggest festivals, Dashain and Tihar fall in this month.

As new clothes are associated with Dashain, delicious food, colourful candles and home decoration are synonymous to Tihar or Deepawali. People believe that by decorating their houses, they can attract Laxmi (Goddess of Wealth) towards them and they will never be short of money in life.

Among the dry fruits wallnut, cashew, almond, raisin, cardamom, dry coconut and chhoda are sold in large quantities. Among them, wallnuts are considered to be the most essential dry fruit required for the Bhai Puja (brother worship). Besides big shops and whole sellers situated at Indrachowk and Ason, small street vendors in the areas also make good money during Tihar.

Tihar is also known as the festival of light. In Tiharpeople decorate their houses with electric light, oil lamp and candles to attract the Goddess of Wealth Laxmi. Nowadays, instead of oil lamps people have started using electric light or candles. Almost all the shops look bright and electric lights, garlands, colourful papers and craft papers areused to decorate the shops.

There is also a tradition of buying new kitchenware and/or gold items to worship Goddess Laxmi during Tihar. The most important part of the festival is sweets, which are eaten as prasad of Goddess Laxmi. Some prefer to buy ready-made sweets from shops situated in every nookand corner of the Capital city. Some people prefer to make sweets in their own houses. Sweet shops also try their level best to attract customers to their shops by displaying the sweets of various shapes and sizes.

Laxmi puja (worship) - The day to worship Goddess of Prosperity

Families nation-wide celebrated Laxmi puja by worshipping Laxmi the goddess of wealth on the second day of Tihar. The burst of firecrackers in the night sent scared dogs scurrying under the cover of cots. Firecrackers were bursting in the city's night sky aplenty despite a ritual official ban on them.

There were frequent power failures in the city in the evening as the Nepal Electricity Authority could not cope with the additional demand for electricity to light homes and commercial establishments. Florists were doing brisk business selling marigold and makhmali garlands. The city was bright, colourful and noisy. Groups went around the town singing songs asking forbhailo in the evening. The dogs had their day on the third day. People worshipped and fed their pets or neighbour's dogs on the day kukkur or dog tihar.

Goddess Laxmi who is the symbol of wealth and prosperity. People decorate their houses, especially doors and windows, with marigold garlands and clean up their homes before they begin worshipping the Goddess in the evening. The flower garlands, combined with typical Nepali oil lamps and candles, can be seen in every house and shop throughout the Kingdom, as these are the ways to beautify the houses to welcome the Goddess.

The proper worshipping of Goddess Laxmi will bring prosperity and happiness in people's lives. People involved in the financial sector and businesses celebrate this occasion with more enthusiasm as this particular worshipping of the Goddess is related to money. This is why shops and other financial and business institutions are highly decorated with flowers, oil lamps, candles and even electric lights.

Many people even paint their houses during this time.People start celebrating Laxmi Puja in the evening and continue till late night as they believe Goddess Laxmi travel only at midnight. There is also a belief that the Goddess will enter those houses, which are clean and bright.Many women members in a family take a fast for the whole day tomorrow to prepare for the puja in the evening, after which only they eat.

Women in the family get-together the whole day tomorrow and prepare different types of typical Nepali sweets like Sel, Puri and Anarasa, among others. These are later offered to the Goddess during her worship. In 2001, three different events of Tihar - Kukur Tihar (worship of dog), Gai Tihar (worship of cow) and Laxmi Puja have fallen on the same day .

Gai puja (worship)

Gai puja is celebrated on the third of Tihar by worshipping the cow. Cows were garlanded and fed in the morning. Cows are considered sacred and contribute to the economy.

Mha puja (worship)

The Newar community celebrated Mha Puja Thursday night. The worship of the soul is a peculiarity of the community. Groups went around the city in the evening playing dheusi. The 4th day is Bhai tika.

With Bhai Tika, the festival of lights concludes

With the finish of Bhai Tika (Brother's Day) , the last day of the Tihar festival, the entire festive season has come to an end. The year 2001's two main festivals Vijaya Dashami and Dipawali occurred in the month of Kartik (from mid October to mid November) and all Hindus throughout the world observed the festivals with joy and fun.

Bhai Tika is the last day of the five-day festival Tihar, which was observed by brothers and sisters. The day of brothers and sisters - Bhai Tika is also known as Yamapanchak and Kija Puja. On this day sisters offer their brothers clean and sacred place to sit down andencircle the place with pure water and mustard oil so as not to allow evil things in. Sisters put on colourful tika on the forehead of their brothers and garland them with makhamali flowers praying the Almighty to protect their brothers from all sorts of evils.

During the worship, sisters also offer their brothers delicious food items and sweets like sel roti, fruit, dry fruit and many more. Sisters break the hard walnut with one hit to avoid all sorts of problems that may fall on their brothers in future. With this the Bhai puja ends.

For Bhai puja, which literally means the worship of brothers, sisters invite their brothers to their homes or vice versa some days ahead - within four-days from the beginning of Yama Panchak till Govardhan puja.

The legend

A girl's brother was very ill and Yamaraj (God of Death) came to take his soul. The girl pleaded Yamaraj not to take her brother until she finished her puja to her brother. After finishing the puja (worship), Yamaraj returned to take her brother. She again pleaded not to take him until the oil dried, the makhamali flower withe red and the walnuts decayed ,which sheused during her puja.

Yamaraj promised that he would fulfil her wish. However, the oil did not dry up in the whole year, makhamali flower did not wither at all and the walnut did not show any signs of decay. On seeing this Yamaraj became very happy with her for her love towards her brother and blessed her with her brother's long life and prosperity.

Since that day sisters have come on praying for their brother's longevity and prosperity offering them with makhamali flower's garland and brothers also made it the tradition to offer their sisters with special gifts. Those without brothers or sisters offer puja at Bal Gopal temple situated in the centre of Ranipokhari in the centre of the capital. On the same occasion, Anjali Devi Maskey offers holy tika to 250 brothers, without any sisters, collectively at the temple of Lord Gorakhnath in Kasthamandap.