Diwali is known as Tihar in Nepal. It is a five-day festival, like most places in India and is celebrated to honour the goddess of wealth and lord of prosperity, Lakshmi and Ganesh respectively. Tihar is a time for decoration, lights, fireworks and festive sweets and dishes.
First Day - Kag TiharThe first day of Tihar is celebrated as Kag Tihar (crow worship). Every member of the family offers the first portion of the meal in the open for the crows that come down in large numbers and devour the feast. On this day crows are worshiped and are kept happy. Tihar is also about appreciating animals around us.
Second Day - Kukur Tihar
On the second day of Tihar is celebrated as Kukur Tihar. Dogs (kukur), the vahana (carriage) of Lord Bhairava, are adorned with floral garlands around their necks, red kumkum (vermillion) is applied on their forehead and are offered special meals. On this day, people pray to the Kukur to guard their homes. Tihar is also about breaking the boundaries man has created and regarding every living being as important. According to Hinduism it is believed that dog guards the underworld empire in a similar manner as it guards our home.
Third Day - Gai Tihar and Lakshmi PujaThe third day of Tihar is about worshiping the mother of the universe - cow and is celebrated as Gai Tihar. The cow puja is performed by adorning cows neck with floral garland , applying tilak on cows forehead and feeding them special meals. Those performing Cow Puja apply her manure in different parts of the home, drink cows urine, as a part of a purification process as cow urine is considered to have medicinal benefits.
The third day of Tihar is also one of the most important days of the festival. Like India, the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Lakshmi is worshiped in Nepal on this day. The houses are beautifully decorated with oil lamps to welcome Lakshmi. Pictures of Lakshmi are placed and worshiped in the praying areas of the houses. Prayers are performed using flowers, incense, oil lamps, money and red mud. It is often done by a female member of the family. The lady performing the puja makes foot impressions (paduka) with red mud on the entrance of her home, leading a trail of similar footprints to the puja room of the house.
Lakshmi is also worshipped in office and workplaces. Usually the cashiers in offices perform the puja along with the entire staff.
Fourth Day - Gobardhan Puja, Mha Puja and Goru TiharMale members sing Deusi in Nepali. A group of males get together, carry musical instruments and sing Deusi door to door blessing the home and family after receiving money and refreshments. During the Tihar festival only Nepalese songs like Bhailo, Deusi and folk songs are played from local Radio station. The fourth day of the Tihar is also is known as as Mahapooja. The coming of a new year is also celebrated in Tihar. Another popular ritual of the day is the Govardhan puja or Goru Tihar where Oxens are worshiped.
Fifth Day - Bhai TikaOn the final day also known as Bhai Tika day, sisters welcome their brothers with Tika (vermillion on the forehead) and floral garlands, and showering them with wishes for a long life and prosperity. Rani Pokhara, a famous pond in Nepal, has a small holy temple located at its center. The compounds door is opened exclusively on the day of Bhai Tika. Those who do not have sisters enter the temple to receive Tika and blessings from priests in the temple.
Sisters shop for dried fruits (cashew, almonds, pistachios, resins etc)and fresh fruits in the cities, whereas in villages sisters prepare home-made sweets and breads(Sel roti). The mixture of dried fruits along with sweets is packed in a plastic bag which is known as Sagun. It is given to brothers by sisters on the Tika Day and in return, brothers give gifts such as new clothes and money to their sisters.
Hence, Tihar besides being the festival of lights, also celebrates the coming of the New Year and the bond between brothers and sisters.