Each festival has its own unique cultural aspect and meaning. Even the small deeds and rituals that we do have a cultural meaning. Tihar is such a special festival, which when we celebrate, we are unknowingly performing rituals in many ways.
Due to the coronavirus, we have to celebrate this year’s festival at home. We can celebrate the festival in our own style, even if it is limited to the house. For this, we need to know about the cultural activities performed during the festival. Understanding why something is done awakens in us reverence, confidence, and faith.
1. A celebration of light
Basically, Tihar is a ‘festival of light’. This is the perfect time to brighten up every home. Now we enjoy the light of the electric lamp, but in my time it was customary to light the whole house by lighting a lamp. We used to light the toll yard by burning pine needles. We used to enjoy lighting candles.
In our culture, there are four nights. Shivaratri, Moharatri (Krishna Janmashtami), Kalratri of Dashain and Sukhratri of Tihar. Sukhratri is the night of Lakshmi Puja. That is why this night has special significance. As on the other three nights, this night too, special power is worshiped by waking up the light.
The work of making mandapa is also done during the festival. Mandapa is built for Bhaiti or Mhapuja. It is customary to surround the mandapa not only with grain dust but also with oil. Surrounding the mandapa with oil means that your people will live long. In this way, velvet, centipede, Godavari, and sometimes dubo garlands are worn to celebrate the festival.
2. A festival of melody and music
In the festival, dancing, singing and playing music are all done together. So it is also a festival of melody and music.
The melody of the festival is sung with melody. The women begin the song with a hymn of hygiene, saying, ‘Covered with green dung, O moon of the new moon.’ Good night is sung. Earlier, women were allowed to participate in dance songs with confidence. However, taking the opportunity of the festival, they are allowed to dance for a day or two.
There is a saying that Bhaili songs are sung by sisters for the good of their brothers. Not only cow but also deusi is sung during the festival. Deusi Ray, Devashri, is associated with the blessings of the gods. The male members play deusi by singing ‘Deusi Re’.
Along with Deusi, people also sing Bhaili. However, men do not sing bhaili with rhythm or pull the leg. Both men and women play deusi-bhalo, saying, “We did not come like this, the sacrifice was sent by the king, O Aunsi Baro Gai Tihar Bhailo.”
It is also said that there was a man named Bali Raja in Jumla in the 15th century. It is said that he started Deusi and Bhailo.
3. Death-making festival
There is no address for death. This is not to say that it falls in the same month as the festival. It has the nature of coming suddenly and destroying it. How death is associated with our religion is known from the deeds performed during the festival.
The mythology of Yamuna and Yamaraj is associated with Tihar. Since Yamuna only came to his brother from time to time, his brother Yamaraj tried to make his sister happy by feeding her sweets and dressing her well. In the same way, when we meet our people in the family after a long time, when we invite the sisters to our house, we feed them, sweets.
After this, Yamraj was happy and asked for a gift, but Yamuna asked all the sisters of the world to vaccinate their brothers. Therefore, in order to prolong the life of one’s brothers during the festival, it is customary to vaccinate them with water and oil. This mythological statement seems to be the beginning of Bhaitika.
As soon as Yamapanchak is mentioned, the matter of keeping an account of death is added. There are various forms of death, such as untimely, temporary, accident, disaster, etc. However, the myth that Yamaraj also told me not to bring the people who clean and light the lamps on the day of the new moon of the festival is also prevalent in our society. Thus in Tihar, we also reverently worship the messengers of Yamaraj. Which teaches us to feel death.
4. A festival to worship oneself with animals
The five days of the festival are called ‘Yamapanchak’. That is why the messengers of Yamaraj are worshiped. The crow is worshiped on the first day, the dog on the second day, the cow on the third day, the ox on the fourth day, Mhapuja on the same day, and Bhaitika on the last day.
There is a story that a crow ate nectar. It is considered a good omen bird. As soon as the crow comes, we say ‘Shubh Bol!’ We also worship the dog under the pretext of Yamaraj by worshiping it with celeriac and meat. We also see dogs walking around with respect. We also have the story that a dog went to heaven with Pandavaputra Yudhisthira.
The cow is considered a symbol of Lakshmi. Together we worship the cow as Lakshmi, mother, mother or life-giver. The cow is worshiped in association with Krishna as Govardhana mountain.
The Newar community in and outside Kathmandu has a tradition of worshiping themselves. It belongs to the unique culture of the world. Worship is done to make oneself pure, pure, and endowed with the human spirit. Nepal Samvat starts from this day. The valley rejoices in the New Year. Today, Nepal Samvat is officially recognized. This Samvat, which comes from the name of the country called Nepal, is our original Samvat.
5. There is a difference between Dashain and Tihar
There is some difference between Dashain and Tihar. Dashain can be called a festival of family ties and rituals. In Dashain, Tika and Jamara give love to the younger ones. But, fun gets more priority in the festival. Everyone is looking forward to having fun. And it comes more connected with nature and with siblings.
In Dashain, meat dishes are predominant. Coconut and ghirau are used during worship. The practice of sacrificing at the state level during the decade is still going on. But during the festival, fruits as well as various types of bread, sweets, and sweets are eaten instead of meat.
In Dashain, it is customary to put dubo on the head, wear it on the ears and wear a garland. Velvet, centipede, and Godavari garlands are worn during the festival.
The festival is also associated with prosperity and development. Since wealth, splendor, happiness, and prosperity are worshiped, it tends to be close to prosperity. The festival is associated not only with food, fun, dance, and worship but also with the expansion of life.
At this time, people get a comfortable opportunity to gamble. It is our mythical rite to gamble, play cards, dice, and dice so that the loser knows or accepts the defeat.