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Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja, Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat

Today is Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja, Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat.

Goru Puja

Nepal is mostly an agricultural country so oxen are considered important animals as they help in ploughing the fields. That is why on this day they are worshiped with tika, garland and offered nice food.

Govardhan Puja

Govardhan Puja is performed by making a hill called govardhan parbat using Cow dung. Cow dung has big importance in Hindu culture. In the olden days it was used for everything from light at night (Methane) to polish mud floors of traditional houses. Even now no Puja is complete without cow dung in Nepali Hindu culture.

It is believed that once there was a drought in a village in Vridavan. The villagers were very worried and they wanted to perform a big Puja in honour of Lord Indra, the God of rain. But Lord Krishna convinced them that, they should not pray to Lord Indra since it was the Mount Govardhan that brought the rain and not Lord Indra. This made Lord Indra very angry and in his wrath he sent forth a big thunderstorm to flood the village. Lord Krishan lifted the Mount Govardhan as an umbrella above the village to protect the villagers and their cattle from the rain and flood.

Mha Puja

In this day, after sunset Newar community perform Mha Puja.

“Mha” means body in the Newari language so on this day the Newa people worship their body and their inner self in the evening. They believe that the soul never dies and our body is only a vehicle and so we need to understand and respect our body as it is the chosen vehicle for this incarnation. This Puja is believed to bring prosperity and physical well-being.

Members of the family, first males followed by females, sit cross-legged in a row. The elder group of females plays the role of facilitators for each member. A mandap, decorated with different colours and various grains, fruits and flowers, is drawn for each member of the family.

In between the grains and fruits lies a mini mandap of oil, which represents the human soul. The human soul is placed between various grains and fruits so that a person will prosper throughout the year since each object represents a particular God and it is believed that each deity will bless the person. An oil lamp with velvet cloth wick equal in length to one’s own face is lit on top of the mandap facing all four cardinal directions so that a person will be renowned in all the places of this earth.

Apart from worshipping oneself, all the household entities like brooms, water pots, utensils and machines are also worshipped in the same way.

I performed Mha Puja with my brother and his family this year. This year my cousins are in Nepal so there were only 4 of us unlike 9 last year. For the Puja, first the floor was purified by sprinkling water on it then we made mandaps in front of a row of seats on the floor where we were sitting. Our mandap was designed by AS and I had printed them out on A4 paper but in Nepal they 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. We need three smaller mandaps at the top of the row for the Family Deity (Kuladevata), Yamaraj and Janmaraj, one mandap for each of the member performing Mha Puja. Then at the end of the row, we had a crow drawn symbolising Yama the God of death.

Normally the puja is done by the eldest member of the family but this year I did the process as my elder cousin is not in Sydney.

Process of doing Mha Puja (according to my knowledge):

  • First I gave Nasala, a few drops of water, in the palm of the right hand of everyone to sprinkle some into the mouth and rest over the body for purification.
  • I worshipped the Family Deity and Yama’s mandap with water, rice, flowers, and vermilion powder.
  • I gave water, rice, flowers, and vermilion powder to each individual to worship their own mandaps. The mandap is used as a medium to present the various offerings to the self.
  • Then I put tika on everyone’s forehead and gave them flower to put on their head.

  • Normally in Nepal, they use Itaa (hand woven long strands made using white cloth soaked in mustard oil) but here we used tea light candle instead. I gave each person the candle and everyone took the candle from my hand, lighted them and put them on their mandap. This light is believed to brighten the inner self and keep evil at bay.
  • I used rice and flower to shower each individual and worshipped the god within.
  • Then I gave every a plate with roti, sweets, fruits and masala.

  • Then,I gave Sagun to everyone. For Sagun, you put a plate of egg, bara (lentil cake), meat (chicken), a piece of garlicand fish in the right hand and yougurt in your left hand.

  • Once everyone finished eating the sagun, we used kucho (broom) to sweep the mandaps from top of the row to the bottom touching each mandap to conclude Mha puja.

Nepal Sambat

This day is also New Year’s day for Newar community and is called Nepal Sambat. Nepal Sambat is the national lunar calendar of Nepal. The era started on 20 October 879 AD and was in widespread use for all daily purposes until the beginning of the 20th century. It appeared on coins, stone and copper plate inscriptions, royal decrees, chronicles, Hindu and Buddhist manuscripts, legal documents and correspondence.

The customs of celebrating Nepal Sambat started from October 880 AD. According to a popular legend, there used to be a learned person in Bhaktapur who ordered porters to get sand from Lakhu Tirtha, a river in Kathmandu because he knew that it would turn into a heap of gold the next day. A person named Shankhadhar Sakhwaa came to know about it, and he enticed the porters to leave the sand in his place.

The next day, the sand turned into gold and with that gold he paid off the debt of all the people in the Kathmandu Valley. So from that day, people started celebrating it as their New Year to commemorate their happiness.

Even today, people are very enthusiastic to welcome the New Year. Every year, the day starts with a rally and the greeting of “Nhu Daya Bhintuna!” which means “Happy New Year”. Different programmes and functions are also organised in the Kathmandu Valley every year on this day.

The months of the year in Nepal Sambat are

Nepal Sambat month Corresponding Gregorian month
Kachha lā November
Thin lā December
Pohe lā January
Sil lā February
Chil lā March
Chau lā April
Bachha lā May
Tachha lā June
Dil lā July
Goon lā August
Yen lā September
Kau lā October

 It is Nepal Sambat 1133 this year. Nhu Daya Bhintuna everyone!!!

Also from this day, boys in groups go door to door singing special songs called Deusi similar to the Bhailo sung during Laxmi Puja. You can write just about any Deusi song as long as each line ends with the word `Deusi’ or `Deosuray’. A group of males get together, carry what-ever musical instruments they have or can play, and sing Deusi door to door blessing the home and family in return for money and/or refreshments. Teenagers perform various Deusi songs to collect money for their picnic.

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 Deusi songs blessing the household with good fortune.

A Sample of Deusi Song. Includes a similar meaning in English

Bhana Mera Bhaiho Deusuray. (Say it my brothers, Say it. Deusuray)

Sormelai Kana Deusuray. (Say it louder and say it in tune. Deusuray)

Rato Batoo Deusuray. (Red mud trail. Deusuray)

Chiploa Batoo Desuray. (Slippery trail. Deusuray)

Laddai Paddai Deusuray. (Slipping and Sliding. Deusuray)

Akeya Hami Deusuray. (Finally we made it to your home! Deusuray)

…. …. Deusuray

…. …. Deusuray

…. …. Deusuray

Yo Garma Laxmi Deusuray. (In this home Lord Laxmi. Deusuray)

Sadthai Aaun Deusuray. (May always come. Deusuray)

Hamilai Denus Deusuray. (Give us what you have money or meal)

Bidtha Garnus Deusuray. (Please give us now, say good bye to us, so we can go sing for the next house!)

 Happy Tihar!!!

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Kukur Puja: Tihar

Today is second day of Tihar which is Kukur Puja as well as Laxmi Puja. Some years due to the placement of moon and other planets in the universe, some of the pujas fall on the same day.

I will write about Laxmi Puja tonight after I perform my Laxmi Puja at home.

Kukur Puja

The second day of Tihar is called “Kukur Puja” or “Khicha Puja” (“worship of the dogs”) by the Newars.

A dog is considered as man’s best friend and for Hindus, a dog is also considered as the steed of God “Bhairab” as well as Yama’s (God of death) gate keeper. The Hindu epic Mahabharata talks about the close relationship dogs have enjoyed with mankind. According to it, a dog is said to have accompanied Dharmaraj Yudhisthir on his journey to heaven alive. Dogs howling is considered a bad omen as it means that, they saw “Yama coming to take someone away.

The dog is revered as a faithful and loyal animal which has been in the company of humans since ages. Around the year, dogs help humans by guarding their houses. So on the second day of Tihar, dogs are worshipped by putting tika on their forehead and a garland around their neck. They are offered a delicious meal consisting of meat and other dishes.

People perform the puja on their own dogs if they have one at home; otherwise they perform the puja on stray dogs. On this day you can see many stray dogs with red tika and a flower gland in Nepal.

We don’t have a dog here but my parents have a dog called “Chhotu”.

So I performed my Kukur Puja with his photo. I really am grateful to him that he is there to protect and warn my parents against thieves and the likes.

 

I miss him so much.I hope we will have our own dog one day to do this puja. 🙂

Happy Tihar!!!

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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Goru Puja , Govardhan Puja , Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat

The third day of Tihar is Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja, Mha Puja and Nepal Sambat.

Nepal is mostly an agricultural country so oxen are considered important animals as they help in ploughing the fields. That is why on this day they are worshiped with tika, garland and offered nice food.

Also this day small hillocks made out of cow dung is worshiped. It is believed that once there was a drought in a village in Vridavan. The villagers were very worried and they wanted to perform a big Puja in honour of Lord Indra, the God of rain. But Lord Krishna convinced them that, they should not pray to Lord Indra since it was the Mount Govardhan that brought the rain and not Lord Indra. This made Lord Indra very angry and in his wrath he sent forth a big thunderstorm to flood the village. Lord Krishan lifted the Mount Govardhan as an umbrella above the village to protect the villagers and their cattle from the rain and flood.

This is also the day Mha puja is performed by the Newa people.

Mha” means body in the Newa language so on this day the Newa people worship their inner self in the evening. They believe that the soul never dies and our body is only a vehicle and so we need to understand and respect our body as it is the chosen vehicle for this incarnation. This Puja is believed to bring prosperity and physical well-being.

I performed Mha Puja with my brother , his family and with my cousins on my brother’s balcony. First the floor was purified by sprinkling water on it, then we made mandaps in front of a row of seats on the floor where we were sitting. Our mandap was designed by AS and I had printed them out in A4 paper but in Nepal they 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. We need three smaller mandaps at the top of the row for the House God (Kuladevata) , Yamaraj and Janmaraj, one mandap for each of the member performing Mha Puja. Then at the end of the row, we had a crow drawn symbolising Yama the God of death.

Normally the puja is done by the eldest member of the family but this year I did the process as my elder cousin is not in Sydney.

Process of doing Mha Puja:

  • First I gave Nasala, a few drops of water, in the palm of the right hand of everyone 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 each individual to worship their own mandaps. The mandap is used as a medium to present the various offerings to the self.
  • Then I put tika on everyone’s forehead and gave them flower to put on their head.
  • Normally in Nepal, they use Ita (special long threads made using white cloth soaked in mustard oil) but here we used tea light candle instead. I gave each person the candle and everyone took the candle from my hand, lighted them and put them on their mandap. This light is believed to brighten the inner self and keeps evil at bay.
  • I used rice and flower in my hand to shower each individual and worshipped the god within.
  • I gave Sagun to everyone. For Sagun , you put plate of egg , bara (lentil cake), meat,piece if ginger and fish in the right hand and yougurt in your left hand. 
  • Once everyone finished eating the sagun, we used kucho (broom) from top to bottom touching each mandap to conclude Mha puja.


This day is also New years day for Newar community which is called Nepal Sambat .  It is Nepal Sambat 1132 this year. Happy New Year!!!

Also from this day, boys in groups go door to door singing special songs called Deusi similar to the Bhailo sung during Laxmi Puja. 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 Deusi songs blessing the household with good fortune.

 Happy Tihar!!!

Kukur Puja

The second day of Tihar is Kukur (dog) puja.

A dog is man’s best friend and for Hindus, a dog  is considered as the steed of God “Bhairab” as well as Yama’s (God of death’s)  gate keeper. Dogs howling is consider bad as it means that, they saw “Yama “ coming to take someone away.

Around the year, dogs help humans by guarding their house . So on the second day of Tihar, dogs are worshipped by putting tika on their forehead and a garland around their neck. They are offered a delicious meal consisting of meat and other dishes. People perform the puja on their own dogs if they have dog at home,  otherwise they perform the puja on stray dogs. On this day you can see so many stray dogs have red tika and flower gland in Nepal.

We don’t have a dog here but my parents have a dog called “Chootu”. So I performed my Kukur Puja with his photo. I really am grateful to him that he is there to protect and warn my parents against thieves and the likes.

Happy Tihar!!!

Kaag Puja / Kag Puja

The first day of Tihar is Kaag (crow) puja / Kag puja.

Hindus believe crows to be messengers of good or bad news. With its croaking, it conveys messages like visitor coming to the house. 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 Kag Tihar offering it sweets and various dishes. In Nepal, once you leave offerings on the balcony, crow will come and eat the food.

In Australia, I haven’t seen many crows around so I printed a photo of a crow and performed the Puja this morning. According to my mum, whatever you can do where you are is good enough, you just need to have faith in your belief and perform your duties as per you faith.

Happy Tihar!!!