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Tihar is second biggest festival of Nepal after Dashain. Tihar is also known as Deepawali. Unlike Dashain, Tihar is a short festival of 5 days only. As Dashain is first remembered as puting tika and jamara in the forhead, Tihar is first remembered as lightening home and putting tika from brother and sister. People celebrating Tihar equally realize both festivals Dashain and Tihar are great one. Tihar festival occurs two weeks after the Dashain festival. Tihar contains 5 days Kaag Tihar, Kukur Tihar, Laxmi Puja, Gobardhan Puja, Bhai Tika. Since, Tihar is a five day celebration festival it is also known as Yama panchak. It is celebrated on the late autumn. People decorate their homes with lights, they sing deusi bhaili songs, dance and involve in gambling and finally putting colorful tika with makhamali mala. Tihar begins with kaag tihar in Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Paksha and ends with Bhai Tika in Dwitiya of Kartik Sukla Paksha.

Kaag Tihar

Kaag Tihar is a first day of Tihar. Kaag Tihar is also known as Crow Tihar. On this Day, Crows are worshipped and fed early in the morning because crow is considered as the messenger of death. If the crow cries near a house people believe that it has bring something new news good or bad. People worship crow to bring good luck to themseleves. There was official holiday on this very date before a decade and now there is no official holiday in Nepal.

Kukur Tihar

The second day of the Tihar is kukur tihar or Dog tihar. Dog is considered as most loyal friend of mankind. Dog tihar is celebrated by putting tika on dog's forehead, and flower garland around its neck with the foods of its interest. It is believed that dog can see endangers and the death appearing to mankind.

Laxmi Puja or Gai puja

Third day of tihar is laxmi puja or gai puja or cow puja. On this day cow is worshipped by putting tika in its forhead, putting marigold garland on its neck and decorating its body with colors. Cow is considered as goddess of wealth and mother in Hinduism. Cow puja is done early in the morning. In the afternoon, houses are kept clean, and floor is painted with Red Mud or Rato Mato and cow dung or gobar. Rangoli or circle decorated with many colors are made in front of main gate. People paint steps for laxmi from the rangoli to the room where wealth is kept. Candles and lighteings are lit to make a favorable place for laxmi to come and fullfill the home with wealth and prosperity. On this day evening people go house to house with a Bhaili songs and house owner offers sel roti, dhan , chamal and money.

Bhailo songs:

"Bhailini aayen agana gunyuin cholo magana, hey aaunshi ko dina gai tiharo bhailo... Badali kudali gareko, laxmi pooja gareko, hey aaja ko dina gai tiharo bhailo... hami tesai aayenau bali raja le pathaye..."

People use firecrackers to entertain and also play cards. Houses are make bright with colorful lights hoping that goddess Laxmi comes and bless with wealth.

Laxmi Puja Mantra

नमस्तेऽस्तु महामाये श्रीपीठे सुरपूजिते ।
शङ्खचक्रगदाहस्ते महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥१॥

नमस्ते गरुडारूढे कोलासुरभयंकरि ।
सर्वपापहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥२॥

सर्वज्ञे सर्ववरदे सर्वदुष्टभयंकरि ।
सर्वदुःखहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥३॥

सिद्धिबुद्धिप्रदे देवि भुक्तिमुक्तिप्रदायिनि ।
मन्त्रमूर्ते सदा देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥४॥

आद्यन्तरहिते देवि आद्यशक्तिमहेश्वरि ।
योगजे योगसम्भूते महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥५॥

स्थूलसूक्ष्ममहारौद्रे महाशक्तिमहोदरे ।
महापापहरे देवि महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥६॥

पद्मासनस्थिते देवि परब्रह्मस्वरूपिणि ।
परमेशि जगन्मातर्महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥७॥

श्वेताम्बरधरे देवि नानालङ्कारभूषिते ।
जगत्स्थिते जगन्मातर्महालक्ष्मि नमोऽस्तुते ॥८॥

महालक्ष्म्यष्टकं स्तोत्रं यः पठेद्भक्तिमान्नरः ।
सर्वसिद्धिमवाप्नोति राज्यं प्राप्नोति सर्वदा ॥९॥

एककाले पठेन्नित्यं महापापविनाशनम् ।
द्विकालं यः पठेन्नित्यं धनधान्यसमन्वितः ॥१०॥

त्रिकालं यः पठेन्नित्यं महाशत्रुविनाशनम् ।
महालक्ष्मिर्भवेन्नित्यं प्रसन्ना वरदा शुभा ॥११॥

Goru Tihar, Govardhan Puja

The forth day is a goru tihar, govardhan puja, mha puja. In this day ox is worshipped. Ox is worshipped similar to cow puja. In addition Govardhan puja is also done. Using cow dung model of govardhan parbat is made and worshipped. Newars worship themself in the evening which is known as Mha puja or self worship. Newars believe doing mha puja purifies the body. Mandap is decorated with marigold flower, sweets and fruits and garland or mala is kept. For each family member mandap is made separately. A female member of the family offers the person sitting on the Mandap a sagun with her hands crossed. Shagun consists of fried eggs, fruits fish and home made alcohol. This day is a Newari New year day.

Similar to bhailo which is mostly played by women, deusi is played on the govardhan puja day evening. Below is the short common deusi song:

Ye bhana mera bhai ho.. Deusi re.. Ye bhana na bhana.. Deusi re... Ye swora milai kana.. Deusi re.. Ye rato mato.. Deusi re.. Chiplo cha bato.. Deusi re..

Bhai tika

The last day of Tihar is Bhai tika. On this day brother and sister put tika on each others forhead along with garland sewn with makhamali mala wishing for longetivity of each others life. Makhamali mala is said be be never get withered. Tika consists of five colors called as pancha rangi tika: Red, green, blue, yellow and white. Sister offers brothers shaguns of fruits like walnut, hazelnut or katus, fruits and sweets, clothes and in return the brothers give their sisters money. Those without any sisters go to Rani Pokhari Temple Kathmandu and put tika on the forhead. This is the only day Rani Pokhari is open.

How tihar is believed to be started?
It is believed that while performing bhai tika the messenger of Yama Raj came to take life of the brother and sister requested the messenger to wait until she completes the brother worship or bhai tika. The messenger said ok and she requested to sit along with her brother and worshipped messenger too by honoring him as a brother. The messenger was very happy and wanted to gift the sister. The sister in turn asked the long life of the brother and messenger agreed. In this way bhai tika saved life of the brother.

Additionally, there is another story relating to how Tihar started. In the five days of tihar Yama Raj has a holiday. Lord Vishnu gave the bon of ruling the three worlds for five days to Bali Raja. Lord Bishnu tricked Bali to go to a lonely dark world for his meritorious act that had shacked the heaven of a lord Indra. Beside ruling all three hindu worlds for five days Lord Vishnu agreed to guard Bali Raja for four months. Among the three worlds of Hindu, yamalok is also one of them so Yamaraj went to his sister. Yamaraj sister was so happy to see yamaraj after very long time and she welcomed him. She was happy and she pleased Yamaraj for five days. She worshipped her brother and set a tradition to worship as bhai tika.