Nepal Celebrates Famous Hindus’ Festival Dipawali-Tihar

From the waning moon in between October-Nov, (Kartik), is the start of the indigenous Festival Dipawali-Tihar in Nepal, India and in all over the world. In this year it starts Oct.24-28 or 7-10 2068 Bs. 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 the place like India, China and Pakistan.

Exactly, Nepal Sambat and Mahapuja (body worshiping) have been celebrating in the time of Dipawali-‘Tihar’ in Nepal. In this festival, we worship Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth.

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 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.

The third day is the most important day of the festival. It is called ‘Laxmi Puja’, the day when we worship goddess of wealth. On this day, 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 Auusi-almost 25/26 Oct. 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- 2068 Bs (2011) and Nepal Sambat 1132!

Dirgha Raj Prasai is a former Member of Parliament in Nepal, a political analyst who writes from Kathmandu.