Diwali festival celebrated widely in South Asia is known as Tihar Festival in Nepal. The Tihar is second widely celebrated festival in Nepal after Dashain. The Tihar marks the entry of cold weather and a time of beautiful lighting vistas. The streets, houses, and the whole country put up lights in their surroundings to commemorate God of death and the Goddess of Wealth. Sounds of the crackers, an exhibition of numerous kinds of lighting from traditional oil lamps to colorful electric lights, decoration of houses fill the whole nation with joy while kids and youngsters engaging in deusi-bhailo turn the festival melodic.
Tihar festival in Nepal is known by numerous names like Deepawali, Diwali, and Swanti. Despite numerous names, it is celebrated for five days long and in a similar manner in all the communities of the country. The festival is also known as Yamapanchak in Sanskrit due to the five days celebration and its connection with the god of death, Yamaraj. The first day of the festival starts with the worship of crow with various foods, flowers, and tika – as it is believed to be Yamaraja’s messenger. The guardian of gates of “Heaven”, Dogs are worshipped on the second day or kukurtihar day with treats and puja materials.
The third day of the festival marks of worships motherly cow and Goddess of Wealth, Laxmi. The houses get decorated with light, are cleaned and Laxmi is shown a path of worship rooms with red mud paste patched from doors to worship rooms. The fourth day is the day of the Ox and Govardhan Puja. Newars engage in a celebration of New Year or Nhu: Dan: and worship the body for hosting their souls in a puja called Mha: puja. Bhai Tika or Kija Puja is the final day of Diwali in Nepal and the day when brothers and sisters engage in puja of each other. The puja is believed to protect brothers from untimely and accidental death along with the wrath of God Yamaraja.
Deepawali in Nepal numerous significances and not just the religious values attached to it. The religious values and cultural roots hold deep importance but equally important are the life skills imparted during the festival.
1. The festival teaches cleanliness as whole houses are cleaned to welcome the goddess of prosperity and wealth.
2. KukurTihar, KaagTihar, Gaitihar introduce us to the rolesheld of dogs, crows, cows, and every other animal in the natural ecosystem.
3. Mha puja, celebrated in Newars exhibit the importance of one’s own body, hygiene, and awareness of self. It teaches people the importance of being self-consciousness and never looking down upon one’s own self.
4. The celebratory practices of Deusi and Bhailo are not only acts of celebration but a practice that teaches alms begging is a respectful act.
Tihar festival in Nepal lands in the peak trekking season of Nepal. While traveling to the foothills of the mountain people can also experience the joy of this festival. The travelers can either enjoy the deusi songs people are singing are join in the band for some extra fun. Furthermore, the fireworks are lit across the country, choose to join the locals for some fun, and light up some rockets or dazzling light sticks.
If you are those devils not moved by sounds of bursting firecrackers, then dare to light of one those to quench the thrill-seeker in you. People in Nepal are famous for their welcoming nature and Newars are no different, you can join in on a hospitable session of Mha Puja during a homestay. Furthermore, join a public Bhai tika session which happens in Rani Pokhari or Kasthamandap, and indulges in the experience of Nepali culture.