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Tihar (Dipawali)-Hindus Festival

'The Light Day' in all Over the World 2013

| by Dirgha Raj Prasai 

( November 5, 2013, Kathmandu, Sri Lanka Guardian) The Nepali festival Tihar is also known by many names such as Dipawal in Nepal, or Bhai Tika or Laxmi Puja or as a festival of lights and Diwali in India. It is a five-days festival, which comes soon after the Dashain Festival, and Tihar is all about worshiping of different animals such as crow, dog, cow, and worshiping of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune or Wealth (Goddess Laxmi), and cooking great meals at home, brothers and sisters shopping for gifts, flying kites, decorating homes and streets, playing cards with friends, resting and relaxing, and finally ending the festival with an exchange of a special temporary mark on forehead. The last day of the festival is known as Tika day or popularly known as Bhai Tika (brothers' day). To sum up Tihar festival, Tihar is the festival when sisters wish a long life to their brothers (Bhai)!

Tihar is a festival for brothers and sisters, but What if you are a brother without a sister or a sister without a brother. Well, you can make one by accepting someone close to you in your relatives. If nothing works, you find one among your friends and neighbors, it becomes almost as if it was real. Tihar is a festival of sisters wishing a long life to their brothers and Tihar is the most popular festival in Nepal, India and in all over world where Hindus have been living . 

From the waning moon in between Oct. and Nov, (Kartik), there starts the indigenous Festival Dipawali-Tihar-the light day in Nepal, India and in all over the world. In this year it starts Nov-2-5 2070 Bs. Due to the Tithi disturbance, Crow and Dog worshiping day is joined in a day. We the Nepalese people have glorious history on 'Himabatkhand.' The Himabatkhand-Nepal covers the land of Brahmaputra in the east, Hindukush in the west, Kailash-Mansarovar (west-south China) in the north and the Ganga-River in the south. In the past, Nepal was bigger than what it is today. This zone is the origin of the Vedas, Upanishads, Purans and Nitishastra. The region has been irrigating by rivers originating in the Himalaya, several Saints, Sages and renowned Kings. The Bikram Sambat is an original and sign of Nepalese sovereignty where the foreigners could not attack here like India, China and Pakistan.

Exactly, Nepal Sambat and Mahapuja celebrates in just the day of Govardhan Puja (body worshiping organized by Newars) have been celebrating in the time of Dipawali-'Tihar' in Nepal. During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days. The Nepali festival Tihar is also known by many names such as Dipawali or Bhai Tika or Laxmi Puja or as a festival of lights. It is a five-days festival, which comes soon after the Dashain Festival, and Tihar is all about worshiping of different animals such as crow, dog, cow, and worshiping of the Hindu Goddess of Fortune or Wealth (Goddess Laxmi), and cooking great meals at home, brothers and sisters shopping for gifts, flying kites, decorating homes and streets, playing cards with friends, resting and relaxing, and finally ending the festival with an exchange of a special temporary mark on forehead. The last day of the festival is known as Tika day or popularly known as Bhai Tika (brothers day) To sum up Tihar festival, Tihar is the festival when sisters wish a long life to their brothers (Bhai)! 

The first day of Tihar is known as ‘Kag Tihar’, (crow's day). Crow the messenger of death is honored on the first day of Tihar. The second day is called ‘Kukur Tihar’, (dogs' day). A dog plays many roles in our society. We pray to the dog to guard our house as he guards the gate of the underworld and to divert destruction away from our homes. On this day you can see dogs running around with garlands on their neck.
Tihar and Laxmi Puja (3rd Tihar Day)- One of the most important day of the festival is Laxmi Puja on which day the Goddess of wealth (Laxmi) is worshiped in every household in the entire Nepali Kingdom 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 not only for households but is equally done by Companies. Business-Laxmi-Puja is done exactly the same way as is done in home. Usually company's cashier performs the puja during which time the entire office including office compounds are lit with various lights including electrical, candle lights, and oil lamps and usually staffs are invited to participate in the Puja procession. 

'Water is a symbol of love. Lakshmi emerging from the water explains that the right type of wealth emerges from love. Divine love is the highest wealth and is like nectar in our life. Lakshmi is depicted as seated on a lotus floating in water. Lotus is a symbol of dispassion. A droplet of water on the lotus leaf moves freely on the surface without any stickiness whatsoever. Similarly, when we are not attached to wealth and not possessive, then what emerges is the wealth that is everlasting and light like a flower. Such wealth is life-supporting, brings abundance and prosperity. Wealth should be moving like water. The purity of water is lost if it is stagnant. Similarly, the usefulness and value of wealth is only when it is shared and is moving. Lakshmi is adorned with golden ornaments and is holding a lotus flower in two hands. This represents a brighter outlook and celebrative aspect of life, a combination of abundance without any possessiveness towards the wealth. Further when wealth is used for the benefit of humanity, it doesn’t bog you down, it is light like a flower. The other two hands hold symbolizing the shower of blessings and indicating that we should have patience. Diwali is a festival of lights. It is a time to honor all aspects of wealth and to illumine our life with the light of spiritual knowledge, the energy that is Mahalakshmi. ‘Maha’ implies great. Mahalakshmi denotes a great wealth, a wealth that includes all the eight aspects, the spiritual wealth that takes care of our well-being in all the three worlds (Adibhautik, adidhaivik and adhyatmik). So on this occasion, we wish health, happiness and prosperity for everybody.' -(Satish Oberoi)

'During the festival all the houses in the city and villages are decorated with lit oil lamps. Thus during the night the entire village or city looks like a sparkling diamond. This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to Tihar as 'Panchak Yama' which literally means 'the five days of the underworld lord'. We also worship 'yamaraj' in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity.-Google online opts.

'The eve of Laxmi Puja Day is made spectacular not only by lights but also by echoes of a special song including dancing known as Bhailo or Bhailini that's played only on Tihar and Songs : Deusi Songs (4th Day) Male members sing what is called Deusi or Deusuray in Nepali. Tihar is also the time to re-call their continued wish for a long and a happy life for their brothers. Brothers sit on a floor while sisters perform their Puja. Puja involves following a traditional ritual in which sisters circle brothers three times dripping oil on the floor from a copper pitcher. Afterwards, sisters put oil in brother's ears and hairs, and then give Tika. Also breaking of walnuts by sisters prior to giving Tika to brothers is also a common practice. After tika, flower garland is put around brother's neck. Then brothers give tika to sisters in the same fashion. Sisters also receive flower garland around their neck. Brothers give gifts such as clothes or money to sisters while sisters give a special gift. Those without a sister or brother, join relatives or friends for Tika. Sisters pray for their brother's long life to the Hindu God of Death (Yam Raj). Tihar and Flower Garland is called Malla.

Tihar is probably the best festival of all due to its short holiday period yet packed with much excitement unlike other Nepali festivals! Tihar and Rani Pokharai (Pond)- Rani Pokhara in center of Kathmandu built by Pratap Malla-1649-50, is located at the center of Kathmandu. This famous pond has a small holy temple located at the center. The compound's door is locked all year around except on the day of Bhai Tika. Those who do not have sisters enter the temple to receive tika from priets. Tihar and Cooking - Sisters prepare unique Nepali meal at home for brothers. This includes making of the famous Nepali bread known as Nepali Roti or Sel or Sel (Roti).-Google online opts on Nepalese festival Tihar. 

The most important day of the festival- ‘Laxmi Puja’, early in the morning the cow is worshipped. Tika is put on her head and a garland around her neck then she feasts with delicious food. A cow also symbolizes wealth and she is the most holy animal for Hindus. A cow also symbolizes wealth and she is the most holy animal for Hindus. Cow is holy and venerable animal for Hindus and Buddhists. Hindu and Buddhist scriptures view cow in form of a mother in all over the world especially-Nepal and India. Since the Vedic period cow's body has been accepted as the spirits of various Gods and Goddess. In many Vedic books has mentioned–'Gao Biswasya Matera' or Cow is the mother in the world for human being. It is a belief that people who look upon cow with devotion and worship attain blessings and enlightenment. Such conclusions were given precedence in Shrimadbhagawat Mahapurnana (Hindu's greatest religious book) since long period Gopalas started worshipping cow.

Cow has been declared Nepal’s national animal in Nepal for it has the supreme qualities of animals.' The cow was venerated as the mother goddess in the early Mediterranean civilizations. The cow became important in Nepal and India, first in the Vedic period, but only as a symbol of wealth. In the Mahabharata, Bhishma-a great religious personality and warrior, also observes that the cow acts as a surrogate mother by providing milk to human beings for the whole life. So the cow is regarded as the mother of the world. Hindus worship cow as Goddess Laxmi. Every year cow is worshipped during the Hindu festival of Tihar. The day of worship is known as Gai Tihare. Cow is worshipped in every household. Cow’s urine and dung is needed during any auspicious occasion. It is Hindu tradition to slather the floor with cow’s dung to make it pure. The cow’s dung can also kill germs; so its use is good for health as well. A cow’s milk is highly nutritious that its advantages are hard to explain.

Hindu’s all over the world, irrespective of their caste, creed and country of origin, Celebrates this festival'-Tihar'-'Deepawali'. A famous Indian religious revolutionary A. Swami Vivekananda had said- 'The light of Deepawali is also the light of freedom from control, freedom from tyranny and freedom from all that artificially divides humanity.' Similarly an Indian religious thinker Basavanna writes--'the power of knowledge destroys ignorance; the power of light dissipates darkness; the power of truth is foe of all untruths. Several programmer's are going on not only in Nepal & India– two countries from where this religion was started around 5000 years before but also in other countries like USA, Canada, Fiji, Guyana, Trinidad, Malaysia and a lot more. In India also, this is the only one festival which was celebrated all over the country from TamilNadu to Kashmir and Manipur to Gujarat. In the North India this festival is celebrated as Diwali but in South India it is celebrated as Deepawali. Deepawali, the festival of lights is a harbinger of joy and happiness.

On this day throughout the evening the groups of boys and girls come to houses singing song (Deusi Bhailo) of praise of the goddess and dancing and calling the old story with tune of god and goddess (first day) 'Bhaili Ram' then 'Deusuri Ram' with great rejoicing and they are taken as guests and given gifts- money, various food and fruits. This day the entire place is lively through out the night. The fourth day is bit different. Today the things you worship depend on your specific cultural background. Normally most of the people perform ‘Govardhan Puja’, (ox worshipping). The ox is worshipped with Tika, garland and then a delicious meal is fed to it.-(Avigya Karki)

In the last day, the sister worships their brothers for their prosperous long life worshiping the 'Yamaraj’ (God of death). The main theme behind Bhai Tika (worshiping brothers) is the sisters praying for their brother’s long life from Yama Raj, god of the underworld. Tihar starts from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October. We also refer to Tihar as ‘Yama Panchak’ which literally means ‘the five days of the underworld lord’. We also worship ‘Yamaraj’ in different forms in these five days. In other words this festival is meant for life and prosperity. It is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness and of hope over despair. That the festival is celebrated by people from diverse faiths is a significant affirmation of the great Hindus traditions in the world. Happy Dipawali-2070 Bs (2013)

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