Tag Archives: laxmi puja

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.

Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja

The third day of Tihar is Gai Puja and Laxmi Puja.

In the morning of this day, the cow is worshiped. Hindus consider a cow as sacred and used its milk, dung and even urine for purification purpose. Cows are worshipped with tika and garland with a nice meal. People in villages who have a cow worship their cow but most of the people in Kathmandu don’t have a cow so they either go to a priest’s house or to a temple to worship the cow.

 A cow also symbolises wealth and a form of goddess Laxmi.

In the afternoon, the whole house is cleaned in preparation for welcoming the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Most of the houses have their front door decorated with a mandap and have a trail of red mud leading to their Puja room(worship room in the house) .

When I was young, I used to help mum do this. It was one of my favourite holiday activities. First red mud is used to make a trail leading to the Puja room. Once it is dry , a mixture of flour and water is used to make a symbolic footprint of Goddess Laxmi on the floor entering the home. Once the flour footprints have dried, vermillion mixed with oil is put on them along with some flowers. This results in a trail of small red footprints from the main door of the house to the Puja room symbolising that Goddess Laxmi has entered the house.

In Australia we can’t do this so I printed out small footsteps in a piece of paper and use that as an alternative to lead the Goddess Laxmi to our Puja area. We also put our piggy bank in the Puja area.

Laxmi Puja is also done by businesses to have a prosperous year ahead. They put tika on Goddess Laxmi’s idol as well as their cash register and deposit safes.

From this day on for the next 3 days, there will be women in groups coming door to door singing special songs called Bhailani. It is considered auspicious to have these groups come to your front door. The house owner will offer them some Rotis, fruits and money and they sing Bhailo blessing the household with good for fortune.

Hapyy Tihar!!!

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!!!