The five-day festival of lights, flowers, kindness, humankind, wealth, and sisterhood known as Tihar honors Yama, the God of Death, while the worship of Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, dominates the festivities. If you are thinking of traveling to Nepal during the festival, Tihar is one of the best times to visit.
How do Nepalese people celebrate Tihar Festival?
The five-day festival celebration begins with the Kaag Tihar, Kaag meaning (crow, Kukur (dog) Tihar, Gai (cow) Tihar, Goru (ox) Tihar (Govarndhan Puja), Mha Puja (Mha Puja is done by the Newars only), and the final day is Bhai Tika. For the western community, this festival is quite similar to Christmas because of the lights, and Halloween—we are saying Halloween because during this festival people will dance and sing in different houses and they will offer money, sweets, fruits, sel roti, rice, and so on. But people won't dress up, like for Halloween or party events.
Day 1: Kaag Tihar: At other times, if a crow (Kaag) comes around the houses, it is believed that crows carry bad messages. But this is the day where people welcome crows and offer them grains, rice, or whatever they have cooked in their house. Generally, early in the morning, before eating, family members offer the first food to the crows.
Day 2: Kukur Tihar: Who doesn't love dogs, and this is the day for dogs? Just like the Kaag Tihar, people offer good meals to the dogs and put Tika and colorful garlands around their necks. Even on this day, you can see that the street dogs will also be decorated by the locals and offered a good meal.
Day 3: Gai Puja or Laxmi Puja: This morning starts with worshiping the cow like the dogs and crows. Today, people will offer some yummy local dishes instead of grass. Grass is their food, so it doesn't make sense to say that people offer grass, but today people will make some nice dishes such as roti and fruits and hang garlands around their necks.
In the evening, people worship Goddess Laxmi (the god of wealth). This is an interesting thing to see around the city and villages with the lights, the frame of the goddess, fruits, sweets, gold, diamonds, home-cooked Sel Roti, Lotus flower, and so on. People clean every single corner and decorate their houses before worshiping the goddess. From this day on, people start singing and dancing around the streets and houses, which is locally called Deusi-Bhailo.
Day 4: Govardhan Puja/Mha Puja: People make a small mountain of cow dung and worship it as a Govardhan Parbat. At the same time, people worship Ox similarly to the cow. It's hard to find OX in the city as well as in the villages because of the modern tractor, but we can still see it in various parts of Nepal. Ox helped people plowing their fields, so normally in the villages, people offer first-grain (rice) bread to the OX before the human.
The same evening, Mha Puja is also celebrated by the Newari community of Nepal. Today is the Newari People's New Year, called NepalSambat. Newari people gather with their friends and families and welcome the new year.
Day 5: Bhai Tika: This is the final day of the Tihar Festival, and today is the day of sisters and brothers. Normally, elder sisters bless their brothers and put Tika on their foreheads. Sisters prepare good meals and gifts for their brothers. The brother at the end also offers gifts, tika to their sisters. Sisters put seven different colors of tika on their brother's forehead and fresh, colorful garlands on their necks.
Story Behind The Tihar Festival
Tihar is a five-day festival celebrated in Nepal to honor the bond between siblings. One legend says that a girl named Yamuna saved her brother's life by impressing the god of death, Yama, with her devotion. Another story tells that Yamuna used a crow, a dog, and a cow to send a message to Yama, her brother, expressing her desire to meet him. Finally, a third legend claims that Yamuna herself went to meet Yama and put a five-color tika on his forehead, giving rise to the tradition of Tihar.
Story behind the Deusi: Vailo
Deusi Bhailo, a traditional practice during Tihar, is rooted in the story of Bali, a powerful demon king. Bali's generosity was exploited by Vishnu, who tricked Bali into granting him ultimate power. The tradition of Deusi Bhailo commemorates Bali's temporary return to Earth during Tihar, with the term "deusire" translating to "give me your head," a symbolic reminder of Bali's surrender to Vishnu.
When is the Tihar Festival?
Tihar Festival Date:
In 2023, the Tihar Festival dates are November 11th to November 15th.
In 2024, the Tihar Festival dates are October 30th to November 3rd.
Is it possible to make the Tihar Festival Tour with Day Tours Nepal?
Yes, it is possible to make the Tihar Festival Tour with Day Tours Nepal. This would be an amazing opportunity to experience one of the most beautiful festivals celebrated in Nepal, excluding the high mountains. Day Tours Nepal will create a private tour package for those individuals and families who wish to explore Nepal during the Tihar Festival. To immerse yourself in the true spirit of this festival, you will spend one night in a village homestay.