Tihar, the festival of lights, is one of the most important festivals of the Nepal’s biggest festival season that is celebrated after the 15-day long Dashain festival.
The 5-day long festival, also called as Yamapanchak festival, involves a unique tradition that brings together the key aspects of nature- humans, animals and colors. It holds a special place for human-animal bonding.
As part of the Tihar tradition, crow, dog, cow and ox are worshiped across the country treating them as the true manifestation of various gods.
Day 1: Kag Tihar, The Day of Crows
Tihar festival begins with the worshiping of crow, which is considered as the messenger of death in Hindu tradition.
On the day, Nepali Hindus offer different food items to crows early in the morning and pray for luck, as they believe crows bring in messages to houses at the start of the dawn.
Day 2: Kukur Tihar, The Day of Dogs
The second day of the festival is dedicated to dogs and is celebrated as Kukur (dog) Tihar.
On the Kukur Tihar day, the entire Nepali Hindu community worships dogs owing to their religious significance as the guard of Lord Yama, the god of death. Dogs are offered special prayers with tika, garland and delicious foods.
This year, Kukur Tihar is celebrated on October 18, 2017 on the Narak Chaturdashi day.
Day 3: Gai Tihar, The Day of Cows
The third day of Tihar is called Gai Tihar and marks the worshipping of holy cows, which hold great significance in the Hindu tradition. On the day, cows and goddess Lakshmi are revered with great worship.
This year, Gai Tihar is celebrated on October 19, 2017 on the Aaunsi day.
Day 4: Goru Puja, The Day of Oxen
The fourth day of Tihar witnesses the worshipping of oxen and is celebrated as Goru Puja.
Apart from Goru Puja, this auspicious day also marks three different pujas that include Govardhan Puja and Mha Puja.
Govardhan puja marks the worshipping of Govardhan Parbat (meaning hill in Nepali), during which, a Govardhan Parbat, made of cow dung, is worshipped.
After worshipping three different animals on the previous three days, the fourth concluding day justifies the concept of worship with the worshiping of soul, which is common in all beings. Newari Community celebrates the day as Mha Puja, which means worshipping of one’s own soul.
This year, Goru Puja and Mha Puja falls on October 20, 2017 on the Pratipada day. The day also coincides with the beginning of Nepal Sambat festival, the Newari New Year.
Day 5: Bhai Tika or Bhai Duj, the Day of Colors
This is the fifth and the concluding day of the 5-day long Tihar festival.
On this day, sisters apply Paanch Rangi Tika, a combination of five different colors including yellow, green, red, blue and white, to their brothers wishing them a long life and prosperity.
While sisters offer Shaguns (wishing good luck) of dry fruits such as hazelnut (Katus), walnuts, sweets and fruits, brothers in return give them gifts and money along with blessings of protection assurance for the rest of their life.
This year, Bhai Tika is celebrated on October 21, 2017 i.e. Dwitiya of the Nepali calendar.