Tihar – A Glimpse at One of Nepal’s Biggest Festivals
Nepal’s largest Holiday is called Dashain. Tihar is only a couple of weeks around the corner from Dashain.
I interviewed a Nepali woman named Nisha, asking her all about Tihar.
What is Tihar?
“It is one of the biggest festivals in Nepal and it lasts for 5 days”, Nisha says.
She told me that every day is different. Nepal’s largest religion is Hinduism and Tihar is a Hindu holiday where they worship different gods and animals each day. Nisha went on telling us about the different days and what they celebrate.
This day they worship crows. Hindus believe crows are good messengers and they want them to bring good messages to their home. So they put food on the roofs for the crows. Nisha went on saying that “sometimes the crows take away the bad things that will happen to us”.
They worship their dogs. Nepali’s believe that dogs are the protectors and that if something bad is going to happen in their house the dogs will bark endlessly, warning them that something bad is coming. The way they worship the dogs is giving them tika (the red mark on their forehead), give them good food and put a garland around their necks. Most Nepali homes have a dog. “If he (the dog) cries for so many days at night, if he is crying, like he is in pain then somebody is going to die in our society”, Nisha explained. They believe the dogs feel things before they do.
On this day, they worship the cows and the goddess Laxmi (the goddess of money). With the cows, they do the same as they do with the dogs. Feed them, put tika on them and garland around their necks.
They have a long process when it comes to worshipping the goddess of money. They start by cleaning the house. Then they make a mixture of red mud and cow poop to mark the ground and make a pathway for the goddess to enter their house and find the temple inside their homes. They put out fruits and sweets as well.
During this festival, you will see that most of the Nepali houses have strings of lights hanging from the roof and all the way to the bottom. They light up their houses. It looks a lot like Christmas in the west. They do this so that the goddess will find her way to their house.
This day is focused on themselves. Hindus believe they have a god living inside of them and so they worship “themselves”. They eat lots of fruits and nuts and again put tika on and garland around their neck.
This is the last day of Tihar and it is the day they worship their brothers. All the girls in the family will do this. They feed them fruits and nuts and give them tika. This is being done to ensure their brothers a long life and to thank them for their protection over the families.
I asked Nisha what makes Tihar so fun for everyone, because there’s a lot of requirements that need to be done. She responded “Because of the lights and the firecrackers. The decorated houses, even the shops are beautifully decorated. We eat good food and we are able to spend time with our families. We play cards and have a lot of fun.”
During Tihar, everyone is with their families and not their family in law. The women get to go home to their parents and celebrate. While the husbands stay with their family.
Report by Cameron Custance & Emma Mosemann