Photographers: Ashish Parajuli, Balkrishna Lachhimasyu, Bidha Rimal, Dhilung Kirat, Keshav Basnet, Nammy Kirat, Manish Shakya, Rina Maharjan, Sangharsha Bhattarai and Shamesh Joshi
Date: 2008/10/26 – 2008/10/30
Report: Saurav Dhungana
Creative Support: DijupT/PallaviS/RinaM/DhilungK/
Coming right after the great Festival of Dashain, Tihar (तिहार /tihAr/ ) (Deepawali or Diwali) is a festival celebrated with much enthusiasm throughout the country. Most famously known as the festival of lights it is perhaps one of the most colorful festivals of all. It is celebrated from Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna to Katrik Shukla Dwitiya every year (Oct 26th to Oct 30th this year). The five day festival known as Yama Panchak (यम पञ्चक /yama panchak/) is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like the crow, cow and dog, who maintain a close relationship with the humans.
Tihar and Crows – Here comes Tihar to teach you a lesson! Early in the morning of the first day of Tihar, family prepares a good meal. Each member of the family takes the first portion of the meal outside on a platter. The crows come down in large numbers and partake of the feast, they will call others before beginning to eat : Share, Share what you have with all! Crows ( काग /kag/ in Nepali) are considered as the messenger of the Lord of Death, Yama. There is a popular Nepali superstition of crows too: When the crows caw, sadness is coming.) On this day crows are worshiped and are kept happy. Where there are no crows, any winged animal of the heavens (bird) will enjoy the feast. So Tihar is also about appreciating animals around us.
Tihar and Dogs – On the second day of Tihar, Dogs (कुक्कुर /kukur/ in Nepali) are adorned with flower garland around their necks, red tika on their forehead, and are offered great meals, they are the king of the day! On this day, people pray to the Kukur to guard their homes. There are lots of Kukur running around in search of a loving home. You can find them on streets and in your backyards, but on this day, even the most unsightly Kukkur will be treated like a king – every dog has its day!.Tihar is also about breaking the boundaries that humans have created, “The Good”, “The Bad”, “The Ugly”… In Hinduism it is believed that Kukur guard’s the underworld empire just like it guards our everyday homes!. Tihar is about loving Kukurs too!
Tihar and Cows – The 3rd day of Tihar is about worshiping the mother of the universe – cow (गाई /gAi/ in Nepali). According to Hinduism, the human infant is fed breast milk by its human mother for under three years. After weaning, the cow acts as the surrogate mother providing milk for the rest of the human life – through childhood, adult age and old age. Cows are the mothers of the universe, the sacred animal. The gaai puja is performed by giving a tika to a cow on her forehead, and a flower garland (Flower Leis) on the neck, and offering good meals. Those performing gaai puja place her manure in different parts of the home, drink a drop or two of the cow’s urine, as a part of a purification process. Also dip a blade of grass into the urine and lightly sprinkle it on each other’s body to become closer to the mother of the universe – the cow.
Tihar and Laxmi Puja – One of the most important days of the festival is Laxmi Puja (लक्ष्मी पूजा /laxmi pujA/ ). On this day the Goddess of wealth (Laxmi) is worshiped in every household in the entire country by means of Puja, decoration, candle lights, and oil lamps. In this 3rd day of the Tihar Festival, the entire nation becomes an illumination of lights. Pictures and icons of Laxmi Devi ( Goddess) are placed and worshiped in a Puja room (or a place in a living room or a dedicated room for worshiping Gods) Puja is performed using flowers, incense, oil lamps, color-powders, bell and money (both notes and coins). Laxmi puja is performed at dusk using red mud, and puja is often done by a female in the family. She uses her hand covered with red mud to make a symbolic foot-print on the floor entering the home and makes a trail leading to the Puja room. Since Laxmi likes cleanliness, on this day every house/street is made spotlessly clean.The eve of Laxmi Puja Day is made spectacular not only by lights but also by echos of a special song known as Bhailo (भाइलो /bhailo/) that’s played only on this day in the entire year! A group of girls known as Bhailini (भइलेनी /bhaileni/) get together and sing Bhailo door to door, giving blessings to the family in return for money or homemade treats.
Tihar and New Year- On the fourth day of Tihar, there are three different known pujas. Most perform Goru Puja, or Worship of Oxen. People who follow Krishna perform Gobardhan Puja (गोभर्धन पूजा /govardAn pujA/) , worshiping Cowdung symbolizing the Gobardhan Parbat (गोभर्धन पर्वत /govarDan parbat/). The Newar community on the night of this day perform Mah Puja (म्हः पूजा /mHa pujA/) , or Worship of Self. Because this period is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat (नेपाल संवत /NepAl Sambat/), or the new year of Nepalese especially commemorated by Newars, it ensures prosperity for the new year.
Tihar and Songs : Dheusi Songs – Male members sing what is called Dheusi or Dheusiray ( द्यौसीरे /dHeuSire/). You can write just about any Dheusi song as long as each line ends with the word `Dheusi !’ or `Dheosiray !’. A group of males get together, carry what-ever musical instruments they have or can play, and sing Dheusi door to door blessing the home and family in return for money and/or refreshments.
Tihar and Tika – On the final day also known as Bhai Tika (भाइ टिका /bhAi tikA/ ) Day, sisters give tika ( टिका /tika/ – a colored powder placed on once’s forehead) consisting seven colours, and maala ( माला /mALA/ – a necklace of flowers or also known as flower leis, similar to that’s used elsewhere like in Hawaii!) to brothers along with wishes for long life and prosperity. To sisters, Tihar is also the time to re-call their continued love for their brothers. After tika sisters give their brothers a variety of foods, sweets, fruits and clothes to please them and brothers in return give dakshinas (दक्षिणा – /dakshinA/ money given as blessing).
This great festival then concludes after these five days of merrymaking and celebration. What is remarkable is each day carries it’s own significance and truly encompasses every aspect of our culture and religion.
EverestUncensored would like to thank all the photographers for their valuable contribution to this featured series.