Celebrated by over 1.1 billion Hindus all over the world, Tihar (also known as Diwali), is one of the most auspicious festivals in the northern Himalayan country of Nepal. Celebrated in mid-October, this annual “festival of lights” traditionally lasts for five days. In those five days, Nepalese Hindus believe in celebrating the stories of their gods and goddesses, and specifically focusing on the special relationships between humans and animals.
Tihar is known as the “festival of lights” in Nepal because of its widely known tradition of decorating windows and doorways with lights, oil lamps and candles as a welcoming gesture for the god of wealth, luck and prosperity, Laxmi, into their home. “Rangolis” are beautiful paintings made by the family members on their front doorsteps leading into the house. They’re typically made from flower petals, colored rice and laced with oil lamps.
Tihar is built on the heavy symbolism and ancient stories and teachings of Hinduism. On the first day, known as “Kaag Tihar”, crows and ravens are given sweet delicacies and rice as a way of pleasing these “messengers of death”. The call of the crow and raven symbolizes grief and death in Hinduism. Worshipping these animals during Kaag Tihar represents warding off the yearly evils they bring.
The second day, known as “Kukur Tihar” is when the tight relationship between humans and dogs is celebrated. In Hinduism, dogs are known to be the “gatekeepers of the afterlife”. Dogs in all homes and strays in the streets are decorated with garlands, typically made from marigold flowers. They’re given treats, delicious homemade meals, toys and blessings from all of the family members. Despite the fact that these pups have no clue what’s going on, they probably don’t mind being adorned with presents and affection. It’s always an exciting day for Nepalese dogs all over the world; being honored for their friendship, love, security and loyalty. On the last three days, cows are worshipped for milk and as a symbol of prosperity and wealth. The new calendar year is celebrated on the fourth day, and the close and protective relationship between brother and sister is celebrated on the fifth and final day when Nepalese Hindus say goodbye to their unique and beautiful Tihar until next year.
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