Festival of lights begins

KATHMANDU, NOV 11 – Tihar, the five-day Hindu festival of lights and prosperity, will begin on Monday. The festival, also known as Yamapanchak, is celebrated from Trayodashi of the Kartik Krishna Paksha (13th day of the waning moon in the month of Kartik) to Dwitiya of the Kartik Shukla Paksha (2nd day of the waxing moon in the following fortnight) every year.
Various deities are worshipped during Tihar, including Yama, the god of death, and crow, dog, cow and oxen with utmost reverence.
This year, however, the festival will last only four days. Devotees will celebrate Kag Tihar (when crows are worshipped) by offering sweets and food to birds on Monday morning and Kukur Tihar (when dogs are worshipped) on Monday evening itself. In most years, Kag Tihar is celebrated on the first day, followed by Kukur Tihar the next day. According to the Hindu mythology, the crow is considered to be the Yama’s messenger. As the cawing of the crow symbolises sadness and grief, devotees offer them food to ward off grief and death in their homes.
However, Tihar is considered a festival of happiness and well-being, with homes lit up by diyos, electric lights and candles, and roving bands of children and teenagers asking for money and wishes while serenading people with songs and music in the Deusi-Bhailo tradition.
“Each day holds great significance. The cow, crow and dog are revered, acknowledging the cycle of nature and life on earth. The worship of the god Yama shows reverence for death too,” said Jayanta Acharya, lecturer at Balmiki Campus in Kathmandu.
People of all ages and backgrounds cherish Tihar, with Deusi for the men and Bhailo for the women, gambling with cards and kauda, makeshift swings for children, singing, dancing, lights and fireworks. Sweets and sel-roti are consumed along with liquor and meat as the traditional accoutrements to gambling and celebration.
This year, the Nepali Calendar Determination Committee has stated 11.23 am on November 15 as the auspicious hour for Bhai tika, which falls on the fourth day of Tihar. The day also marks the Newari New Year, which the Newars celebrate with Mha Puja.

Source: The Kathmandu Post

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