Tag Archives: Bhai Tika

Tihar

Today we start the second biggest festival, after Dashain, for Hindu from Nepal.

This festival is celebrated in five days starting from the thirteenth day of the waning moon in October.

 The five days are called

  • Kaag / Kag (crow) Puja
  • Kukur (dog) Puja
  • Laxmi Puja and Gai (cow) Puja
  • Goru Puja,Gobhardan Puja , Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat
  • Bhai Tika

We also refer to Tihar as ‘Panchak Yama’ which literally means ‘The five days of the Lord of the underworld’. We also worship ‘Yamaraj’ in different forms in these five days.

In other words this festival is meant for life and death.The five-day festival is considered to be of great importance as it shows reverence to not just the humans and the Gods, but also to the animals like crow, cow and dog, who maintain an intense relationship with the humans. It is also a time for cooking great meals at home, brothers and sisters shopping for gifts, flying kites, decorating homes and streets, playing cards with friends, resting and relaxing.

Tihar is also called The Festival of Lights, as many diyo or candles or decorative lights are lit both inside and outside the houses to make them bright at night. All the houses are cleaned and decorated with the belief that Goddess Laxmi will enter the house that is clean so people light candles, oil lamps and other lights and thus during the night the entire village or city looks like millions of sparkling gems.

There is a story, which tells why this revelry is celebrated so widely. Once there was a king who was living his last days. His astrologer had told him that a serpent would come and take his life away. The king did not want to die so he asked the astrologer if there was any way to escape death. The king was advised to sleep with lit oil lamps all around his bed and decorate the palace with oil lamps on the day of Laxmi puja so that Goddess Laxmi would talk to the serpent not to take his life. It did happen; the serpent was convinced by Goddess Laxmi. The serpent took the king to Yama Raj and told him that it was not yet the king’s time to come to the underworld. So Yama Raj opened his ledger and in it the kings remaining age was written zero, but the serpent cleverly put seven before zero. Thus the king lived for seventy more years. So form then onwards Tihar is widely celebrated worshipping the lord of the underworld and Goddess Laxmi.

Another mytological reasons behind the celebration  is that Lord Ram return to Ayodhya  after 14 years of exile. He killed Ravan on Nawani of Dashain thus we celebrate Dashain and his home-coming is celebrated in Tihar with lights and flowers.

Tihar is also celebrated by playing Langurburja. It is a game similar to the British dice game “Crown and Anchor”. I remember taking money from dad and running to play a game with my friends. The game is played with 6 dice and a mat. The mat has similar symbols, as the dice, and they are spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs, crown and flag. The player can choose one or more symbols to bet his money on. If he gets at least one die with the same symbol which he bet on, he wins. If he gets two then he wins 2:1, the more he gets on the throw the more money he wins. As a kid we used to play for 25 paisa (equivalent to less than a cent in AUD now) a game. It was more for fun than for the money. I am sure they now play with more money than that.

Adults mostly play cards instead of Langurburja.

It also incorporates the Newar’s New Year, which is called Nepal Sambat.

Last weekend, I went shopping in preparation of the festival and bought lots of sweets, fruits and food.  I couldn’t find all the things I will need for Tihar and I was a bit disappointed in Nepali/Indian grocery in Sydney who are charging arms and legs for things we use for Tihar. Just an example, we need jajanka for Tihar which normally would cost around Rs 10 in Nepal but are selling for $2 (Rs180) each in Sydney!

Kaag Puja / Kag Puja

The first day of Tihar is Kaag / Kag (crow) puja which falls on 12 November this year.

Crow is supposed to be a henchman for Lord Yamaraj. Hindus believe crows to be messengers of good or bad news. With its croaking, it conveys messages like visitor coming to the house etc. It is also believed to be a messenger of Yama, the God of death

To avert grief and death in the family, Hindus worship crows during Kaag / Kag Tihar offering it sweets and various dishes. On this day crows are offered food on a plate made out of leaves in the morning before anyone in the house takes in food. In Nepal a crow is not killed cause as a legend says that one crow had happened to drink the water of life. Thus you can see crows everywhere sitting without the fear of human beings. Once you leave offerings on the balcony, a crow will come and eat the food.

Where there are no crows, any winged animal of the heavens (bird) will enjoy the feast.

In Australia, I haven’t seen many crows around so I printed a photo of a crow and performed the Puja this morning. I had a shower and then prepared puja. Here are some photos of Kaag / Kag puja from this morning 🙂

Happy Tihar everyone!!!

I will write about other days like Kukur Puja, Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja, Goru Puja , Govardhan Puja , Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat and Bhai Tika as the festival progresses.

Bhai Tika

The fifth day of Tihar is Bhai Puja.

Bhai” mean brother in Nepali. This festival is mainly for brothers and sisters.

It is believed that this tradition was started by Yama (the God of death) and his sister Yamuna because of their affection for each other.

In this day, sisters apply sacred Tika on their brother’s forehead and pray to Lord Yama for her brother’s long life and prosperity.

Yamaleswor temple

Some of the ethnic groups in Nepal use the Pancha Rangi Tika (Five coloured Tika)  for  Bhai Tika. First a base, rice flour is applied vertically  on the forehead then yellow, green, red, blue and white colour Tika are put on top of this line in a row. But in the Newa culture, we just use rice, vermilion and yogurt, mix them and use that as a Tika.

For this occasion, I had invited my brothers and their families to my apartment and we did the Bhai Tika on my balcony.

This is how I did my Bhai Tika.

Mandap Puja

Before the Bhai Tika, just like in Mha Puja, the floor was purified by sprinkling water on it, then we made Mandaps in front of a row of seats on the floor where my brothers were sitting. I used a copy of the same Mandap which was designed by AS but this time I printed them in A3 paper. In Nepal the Mandaps are made by hand on the floor using oil, rice flour, vermilion, puffed rice and sometimes beans. The number of the Mandaps needed is three plus the number of people doing the Puja. So I had two big Mandaps, for my brothers. in a row and three smaller Mandaps at the top of the row for the House God (Kuladevata), Yamaraj and Janmaraj, and one crow drawn at the end of the row symbolising Lord Yama.

Beside the three Mandaps at one end, I also had a Sukunda with a candle on it.

Bhai Tika

Then I put all the sweets and Rotis that I had made or bought as well as some fruits around the Mandap along with the Masala and Sagun.

The Rotis I made at home this year were

  • Besana ko ladoo
  • Puri
  • Nimki
  • Lal Mohan
  • Strawberry cup cake
  • Chocolate cup cake

(I will post recipes in my next post)

I also bought Soan Papdi.

Then I had trays with fruits like mangoes, peaches, plums, rockmelons, oranges, apples and pears.

Masala and Tshirt

I made Masala at home this year with dry coconuts, dry dates, raisins, almonds, pistachio nuts, apricots, dry figs, cashews, cloves, cardamoms, beetle nuts, hard shelled walnuts, palm sugar cubes and lots of Chocolates. I used clear cello wrap and colourful bows to make it look beautiful.

For Sagun, I boiled the eggs, took the shell out and fried them in a pan. I made Bara (lentil cakes, for which I will share recipe later), fried some chicken, fish and cut fresh garlic.

Jajanka

I made Mala out of tinsel and bought Jajanka in a Nepali grocery store. Jajanka is made of many rounds of a white cotton thread forming a circle of about two feet in diameter and tied with a small piece of colourful cloth in order to have no ends. Jajanka symbolizes the integration of the beginning with the end. It is about creation, maintenance and fullness of life. Normally the Mala is supposed to be of Makhmali ful/Supadi ful (Globe Amaranth) as it never dries and always looks fresh.

I also bought  T-shirts for both of them.

Bhai tika process

  •  First I gave Nasala, a few drops of water, in the palm of the right hand of my brothers to throw some into the mouth and rest over the body for purification.
  • I worshipped the House-God and Yama’s Mandap with water, rice, flowers, and vermilion powder.
  • I gave water, rice, flowers, and vermilion powder to my brothers first to worship the Mandap of the House God and then the crow, then to worship their own Mandaps. The Mandap is used as a medium to present the various offerings to the self.
  • Then I put Tika made of vermillion, rice and yogurt on my brothers forehead and gave them flowers to put on their head as a blessing form God. This was followed by Mala and Jajanka around their neck.

    Putting TIka

  • Normally in Nepal, they use Ita (special long threads made using white cloth soaked in mustard oil) but here we used tea light candles instead. I gave both my brothers the candles. They  took the candle from my hand, lit them and put them on their Mandap. This light is believed to brighten the inner self and keep evil at bay.
  • Then I took some water in an Ankhura (a small pitcher for Puja) filled with oil and water and Dubo in my hand and circled around my brothers three times.

    Making circle with oil and water

  • Then I gave them some rice and flower in their hand. Then I gave trays of Rotis, fruits, Masala, sweets and clothes to them and they had to hold them and keep them from touching the ground. Then I toke some rice and flower in my hand and showered each of them and worshipped the god within them. Only after that could they put the trays down.
  • Then my brothers put Tika on my forehead, touched my feet for my blessings and gave me the gifts they had brought for me. 
  • I gave them the Sagun . For Sagun, you put a plate of egg, Bara, meat and fish in the right hand and yogurt or alcohol in the left hand
  • Once everyone finished eating the Sagun, we used Kucho (broom) from top end of the row of Mandaps to the bottom of the row, touching each Mandpa to erase them and conclude our Bhai Tika.

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Tihar

Thanks to my fellow blogger Basundhara (Nepal mero maya) for taking such an interest in my blog. I am writing Tihar posts with your comments in mind.

Tihar is the second biggest festival of Hindus in Nepal. It is celebrated over 5 days which are:

Each day has different significance.

This year Tihar is from 25 October to 28 October.

Tihar is also called the festival of lights so houses in Nepal are decorated with lights and garlands of the marigold flowers.  Normally houses are decorated either using traditional diyos  (oil-fed lamps made with clay ), candles or electrical lights hangings from the roof in front of the house. During the night if you walk through the main roads of the city, it looks beautiful with the houses all around light up for the festival.

There are lots of stories/ mytological reasons behind the celebration of Tihar. One of them is that Lord Ram return to Ayodhya  after 14 years of exile. He killed Ravan on Nawani of Dashain thus we celebrate Dashain and his home coming is celebrated in Tihar with lights and flowers.

One of the thing I remember about Tihar is playing Langurburja. It is a game similar to the British dice game “Crown and Anchor”. I remember taking money from dad and running to play a game with my friends. The game is played with 6 dice and a mat. The mat has similar symbols, as the dice, and they are spades, hearts, diamonds, clubs, crown and flag. The player can choose one or more symbols to bet his money on. If he gets at least one die with the same symbol which he bet on, he wins. If he gets two then he wins 2:1, the more he gets on the throw the more money he wins. As a kid we used to play for 25 paisa (equivalent to less than a cent in AUD now) a game. It was more for fun than for the money. I am sure they now play with more money than that.

Adults mostly play cards instead of Langurburja.

Tihar is celebrated a bit differently in various ethnic groups in Nepal. I will be writing my post based on the Newari culture.

As the festival progresses, I will keep posting more on what I did and what each day is about.

Happy Tihar!!!

With marriage comes great responsibility!

No matter who you marry, marriage comes with great responsibilities. And I think you have more responsibilities when you marry someone who comes from a background where there are lots of tradition and culture.

As I am not in Nepal, I am not forced to follow all those culture and traditions but at the same time I miss not being part of something important and fun. I remember while growing up there, I used to love all the festivals (of which there was one at least once a month if not more). There was always something to do, eat or watch. I feel sad thinking that if we settle in Australia for life, our kids will miss out on all those opportunity to enjoy and learn Nepalese tradition and culture.

Anyway, in Nepal, the first year of marriage is considered to be very important. So during every festival, there are things you are meant to do. This affects how you celebrate Dashain, Tihar, Father’s Day, Mother’s day and more. I will only learn all these as the time goes by and each festival comes along.

The first one for me was Father’s Day in September. I was grateful to my MIL and the rest of the family when she made my dad’s Father’s Day special. Even when I was living so far away from him, my MIL made sure things were done according to the tradition and so she sent all the yummy stuff to my dad. It included Rotis, sweets, cakes, fruits, Sagun , cooked meat, Achar, whisky and a shirt for my dad.

I got to see the photos and I was really happy. My dad was pleased too.

In Dashain, I wasn’t expected to do much but me and AS wanted to grow Jamara and so we did. If I was in Nepal, it would have been a different story.

Now the next big festival , Tihar is coming. My brother is here so I do my Bhai Tika here. While Skyping with my MIL, she reminded me that as this is my first Bhai Tika after the wedding, I should do something special. She even gave me recipes for a few dishes that I could make.

Since that conversation, I am in a panic mode. I am sure I can’t do what they do in Nepal but still I have to try and do the best that I can. Normally I just buy some sweets from an Indian grocery store and some fruits and some Masala. But now to make this Bhai tika special, I have to make some Rotis myself as we can’t buy Nepali Rotis here. And I don’t know how to make them yet.

My cousin K is going to help me make some of those items. I also have my best friends, YouTube and Google, to help me but I am still stressed out. I am trying to think about what I can do to make the day special. I am really worried that I will stuff it up.

I think my MIL and the rest of the family have been very kind and supportive with me and are doing their share in the relationship to make me and my family comfortable so now the ball is in my court.

I know it is my responsibility now to shine as a “Good Bhuhari(DIL)” but I am not sure how well I will handle these responsibilities.

I am scared to disappoint, not sure who? May be me first, then AS, and both our families. Worried worried worried!!!