A Brief Summary of Tihar
Tihar, or the festival of lights, is celebrated throughout Nepal around this time each year. We were lucky enough to be able to experience this holiday with our homestay families. Here is a brief description of what these days looked like for us:
Day 1 (Monday): Worship the Crows.
This was not happening all throughout the streets, but more in specific locations. My homestay family and I watched part of this on their television. In one of the parks in Kathmandu, a man who could speak to the crows gathered a lot of them together and there was a big ceremony.
Day 2 (Tuesday): Worship the Dogs.
No matter if you are a cat person or a dog person today you are a dog’s best friend. Walking to the Program house all of the dogs I see have red Tika on their foreheads and a flower necklace around their necks. I watch a little boy trying to coax a stray towards him, but once he tries to get the necklace around his neck, the dog runs away.
Day 3 (Wednesday): Worship the cows and Laxmi
Today is the first BIG day of Tihar. This day is mainly to worship cows, but since there aren’t many in the city my family tells me most people use this day to Worship Laxmi, the goddess of wealth. Early in the morning, everybody wakes up to make beautiful mandalas outside their front doors as an invitation to the Goddess. There is also a line of wet clay (that soon dries) from the mandala to the shrine in my family’s house.
Day 4 (Thursday): Worship Yourself
Today we only have to be at the program house in the morning since most families will be busy. I wear my new Kurta as my family instructed and in the evening we start the ceremony. We make mandalas for the Goddesses and for ourselves and later put piles of fruit in front of each one as an offering. My homestay mom kneels in front of each member of the family and gives them rice and tika to offer on each mandala, and then places orange and yellow tika on our forehead with a red rice paste. This was a very special ceremony to be a part of.
Day 5 (Friday): Worship older Brothers
The last day of Tihar. My family and I wake up early to get to my homestay dad’s older brother’s house where my sister can worship her cousin since she has no brother. The process is very similar to yesterday’s, but one also presents gifts of candy to the brother. This becomes the busiest day as we later drop off my mother and sister so my mother can worship her brother and then I zoom off with my dad to his sister’s house for him and his brother to be worshipped.