Tihar (तिहार) is a five-day Nepalese festival celebrated in late autumn, which comes soon after Dashain. Two of these days incorporates the Hindu festival Deepavali, where one day is celebrated for goddess Laxmi and the other one is celebrated to worship brothers for their long life. However, all ethnic groups celebrate this festival. The festival is celebrated from Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna to Katrik Shukla Dwitiya every year.The name Tihar means the festival of lights, where many candles are lighted both inside and outside the houses to make it bright at night. The five-day festival 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 crow, cow and dog, who maintain an intense relationship with the humans.
The first day of the festival is called Kag Puja or Kag Parva - Worship of Crows. The crows are worshipped by offerings of sweets and dishes on the roof of the houses. The cawing of the crows symbolises sadness and grief in the Hindu mythology, so the devotees offer the crows food to avert grief and deaths in their homes.
The second day is called Kukur Puja or Khicha Puja by the Newars - Worship of Dogs. Dog, which is believed to be messenger of Lord Yamaraj, the god of death, is worshipped once a year on this day. People offer garland, teeka and delicious food to the animal, and acknowledge the cherished relationship between humans and the oldest ever tamed animal.
This day is also observed as Narak Chaturdashi.
Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja
On the morning of the third day is Gai Puja - Worship of Cows. The Cow is considered to be the surrogate mother humans, according to Hindu myth, so they worship her with tika, garlands and fruits on that day.
In the evening Laxmi, the goddess of wealth is worshipped. This day is called Laxmi Puja. The goddess is believed to enter the brightest house to give her blessings, making the family healthy and prosperous.
Gobhardan Puja and Maha Puja
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, which is worship towards Cowdung. Cowdung is seen as very useful in Nepal, as in the olden days it was used for everything from light at night (Methane) to polish for the mud floors of traditional houses. The Newar community on the night of this day do Maha Puja, or Worship of Self. Because this period is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat, or the new year of Nepalese especially commemorated by Newars, it ensures prosperity for the new year.
The third and fourth day of Tihar is especially famous for DEUSI AND BHAILO, light and fireworks. Deusi and Bhailo are the songs which have only been sung on those Tihar days. Social workers, young and children visit local homes to sing these songs, and in return the home owners give them money, fruit, rice and bread (Selroti, a special type of bread made by rice flour and sugar).The Deusi is mostly sung by the boys while the Bhailo is sung by the girls.
The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika, a day where sisters put "Tika" on forehead of brothers, to ensure long life, and thank them for the protection they give. When the sisters give the "Tika", the brothers give gifts or money as a return. A special garland is made for the brothers out of a flower that wilts after a couple of months, symbolizing the sister's prayer for her brother's long life