What is Tihar Festival and How is it Celebrated?
In Nepal and some states of India including Assam, Sikkim and West Bengal, the festival of Diwali is celebrated as Tihar. Diwali is an official and important holiday in many countries with Hindu populations, as it celebrates the triumph of light, good and knowledge over all evils and marks the turn of the year in the Nepali lunar calendar, Nepal Sambat.
Tihar, also called Swanti, is celebrated in the fall, although the exact date depends on the year. It lasts five days, and it is very important for us at AnimalWised because it also celebrates animals and the good they do for humans. Read on to discover what is Tihar festival and how is it celebrated.
What does the festival of Tihar celebrate?
Both Tihar and Diwali are known as "the festival of lights", as they are celebrated with lit lanterns called diyas which are placed inside and outside homes and there are firework shows.
Diwali is a time of renovation and prayer, so people clean up their homes and meet their families for feasts, gifts and prayers, although the exact rituals depend on the region. The lights represent the victory of knowledge and hope over ignorance and despair, and therefore of good over evil.
In Nepal, Tihar marks the end of the national lunar calendar, so the renovations are especially important. This feeling of renewal applies to different things, from one's health to business and wealth. However, most people celebrate the new year in April with the festival of Vaisakhi, as is done in the Punjab.
The five days of Tihar or Swanti
In Nepal, Tihar is a five-day festival. Every day includes different rituals and celebrations:
- Day one: Kaag tihar celebrates crows as messengers from the gods.
- Day two: Kukur tihar celebrates the loyalty of dogs.
- Day three: Gai tihar celebrates cows. It's also the last day of the year, and people pray to Laxmi, goddess of wealth, lighting lamps and visiting families and communities.
- Day four: Goru tihar celebrates oxen, and Mha puja celebrates the new year by taking care of the body.
- Day five: Bhai tika celebrates the love of brothers and sisters, who give gifts, garlands and prayers to each other.
During Tihar, it is tradition for people to visit their neighbors, sing and dance seasonal songs like Bhailo (for girls) and Deusi Re (for boys), and give blessings and money or gifts to charity.
How are animals celebrated during Tahir?
As we have said, Tihar celebrates crows, dogs, cows and oxen and their relationship with humans.
- Crows (Kaag tihar) are believed to be messengers of the gods, bringing grief and death. To please them and prevent bad events from happening, people offer treats like sweets and leave them on the roof for crows to take in the morning.
- Dogs (Kukur tihar) are noted for their loyalty and honesty, and they are given marigold or chrysanthemum garlands and treats. Dogs are also honored with tilaka, a red mark on the forehead; this is often done for guests or idols in prayer.
- Cows and oxen (Gai and goru tihar): It is widely known that cows are sacred in Hinduism, as they symbolize wealth and motherhood. During Tihar, cows and oxen are given flower garlands and treats, and sesame oil lights are lit in their honor. Cow dung is used to make mountains.
Do you celebrate Tihar festival with your pets? How do you celebrate it? Tell us all in the comments section!
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