The Meaning Behind the 5 Days of Tihar

  Right when you thought the festive season was over, Tihar arrives with all its grandeur. Synonymously known as the festival of lights, this festival is also called Diwali in Indian subcontinent. Anyone who witnesses this festival of lights is sure to experience the most lively and colorful festival of their lives.

Day One: Kaag Tihar


On this special day crows are offered food and delicacies and they are worshipped. The reason for worshipping crows may seem strange, but in Hinduism crows are supposed to be messengers of death. If crows caw on a roof top of a house, it is supposed to be foreshadow death. Worshipping these birds on “Kaag Tihar” are symbolic in a way of averting bad luck, death and ill fate  that may attack a family.


Day Two: Kukur Tikar


The second day of Tihar is dedicated to man’s best friend: dog. Dogs also seem to be have special power to see death. According to Hindu mythology, “Yama”, the god of death had two watchdogs who kept a watch at the gate of “Narak,” hell where evil people perished. On this special day dogs are offered floral garlands and tika, as a sign of worshipping them.


Day Three: Laxmi Puja


The third day is dedicated to worshipping cows. Cows are also symbolic in Hinduism since they are considered symbols of prosperity. Worshipper offer garlands and best grass to cows. This day is also dedicated to intense cleaning and cleansing of the house because in the evening goddess “Laxmi”is worshipped. “Laxmi”, the goddess of wealth is invited to the house by lighting “diyo”, oil lamps, and  decorating of “rangoli”, powered patterns on the floors. The evening serves as an open house where girls who play “bhailo”, a special tradition of singing visit homes in the neighbourhood collecting special, “dakshina”, offering after singing and dancing.


Day Four: Mah Puja


The fourth day of Tihar is dedicated to three kind of worship. The first worship involves worshipping the oxen. This worship is called “Goru Puja”. Followed by “Goru Puja”, is “Govardhan Puja”, where cow dung is used to make a small mound for worship. Cow dung is considered as a purification agent in Hinduism. In the evening Newars perform “Mah Puja”, a special form of self- worship.This self- worship is a special ritual of purifying the soul. On this special evening boys go around the neighbourhood playing “deusi”, the male version of “bhailo” which girls had performed the day before. Boys gather in groups and sing songs and collect special “dakshina”,offering offered by the host.


Day Five: Bhaik Tika


The last day of Tihar is dedicated to brothers. Legends have it that on this special day “Yama”, the god of death visited his sister  goddess “Yamuna” who put tika on his forehead, offered him garland and offered him a feast. “ Yama” in return blessed his sister and offered him a present as a token of appreciation and honor. It is believed that any sister who honors her brother in a similar manner will shield her brother from death. On this day sister prepare special floral garland made of marigold flowers for the occasion.Sisters do a special worship for their brother and put tika of five colors. In some cultures sisters also break a walnut, as a symbol of breaking stronghold of death. Brothers in return offer gifts and money as a symbol of appreciation.

Besides being a festival of light, fire crackers, colorful patterns, sweets, and feats, Tihar is a special festival that brings families and relatives together. The atmosphere is filled with love, happiness and good wishes.


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