Tihar Festival – Lights, blessings, and love
Tihar Festival, one of the best things about it is the fact that you can actually sense the air around you get merrier and more jovial, and with Tihar here, the atmosphere is just as jolly as one would hope. Small shops and vendors selling fairy lights, children pestering their parents to buy all the colorful decorations and houses looking like a new bride, adorned with all the bright lights and flowers. I too, happen to love Tihar and all the merriment that comes with it. While it is a tedious work to clean the house inside out and make it look as good as new, there is a distinct feeling of gratification that comes when you see your house sparkling as if it’s new.
Preparing for the hustle
Tihar is undoubtedly a festival that requires a lot of work, and unlike any other festival where only elders are involved, Tihar sees even the youngest of the family members being tangled in one chore or the other. Reminiscing about previous years of Tihar, it always used to be my brother and I clean the house. While our version of cleaning usually meant taking out everything from the cupboards and making a mess, I still cherish the bonding time I spent with my brother. But nevertheless, after much procrastination and a few arguments here and there, looking at the result of day-long work was something that we enjoyed and always looked forward to.
Let the festivities begin
The first day of Tihar is always a little low-key with not much to do. We offer grains and other food items to the crows to signify Kaag Tihar. The second day is always when I’m most excited for as Kukur Tihar is when I can shower more love than usual on my dog. Bathing her, getting her favourite food, getting her gifts and watching her try to get rid of her garland is always fun and amusing to watch. Although spending the entire day petting my dog and showing how loved she is a normal day routine, doing so on Kukur Tihar festival really does feel special and different.
Advancing to the third day, the chores and responsibilities keep coming and getting more massive. Early morning on the third day is Gai Tihar where we go on to worship cows as they signify prosperity and wealth. And at night, we adorn Goddess Laxmi with new clothes, offer sweets and fruits and pray to her that our homes shall always be filled with enough wealth to sustain and prosper. Since girls of the household are considered to be the Laxmi of the house, my mom always asks me to clean the house from top to bottom. It has always been my responsibility to make sure the house is clean and spotless during the day of Laxmi puja. As dawn sets and I go out to make a colorful Rangoli, the view of every household glistening with fairy lights and adorned with garlands of marigold just looks surreal. And with the faint chanting of little kids singing Deusi-Bhailo gets closer by the minute and a few firecrackers start bursting nearby, it finally starts to feel like Tihar.
A new beginning
The fourth day of Tihar is Mha Puja, and one of the most exciting days of the tihar festival. Either everyone is hustling to the market or preparing for the puja that is to take place in the evening. Nevertheless, the excitement to worship oneself and being able to regard yourself as God even if it’s just for a day is enough to get everyone going. For the Newari community, this is the day to purify and empower our souls as part of New Year festivities.
While I am of not much help in the kitchen, I do enjoy getting all the stuff ready for the puja. Making mandaps for the entire family, decorating them with flowers, colours and lights and making sure that every mandap is as beautiful as the other is what I love doing the most. And for the actual part of the puja, we initiate the ceremony with some rituals and end it off with a grand feast.
Celebrating a bond
Last but not least, the day of Bhai Tika, where every brother eagerly waits to be worshipped and every sister keenly waits for her gifts is all about love and wishing for prosperity. Waking up early in the morning and pestering my brother on what he’s going to give me has become a bhai tika ritual and I always look forward to the moment when I put tika and garlands on him, give him sweets and have a brief moment of sibling bonding that is different from any other ordinary day.
With gifts in my hand, sweets in my tummy and loads of love and blessings that fill my heart, the five days of Tihar passes by in a blink of an eye, but each year, it leaves behind a special memory to cherish forever.