Published August 15, 2023

Tihar Festival: Lights, Love, and Legends

"Discover the magic of Tihar Festival in Nepal"
Tihar Festival: Lights, Love, and Legends

Welcome to the enchanting world of Tihar Festival, a celebration that illuminates Nepal with its vibrant colors and deep-rooted traditions. Nestled within the rich tapestry of Nepali culture and Hindu heritage, Tihar festival holds a special place in the hearts of both locals and visitors alike.

As a major festival in Nepal, Tihar is one of the 8 festivals in Nepal to add in your bucket list when traveling in Nepal. Therefore, we will uncover the essence of Tihar, its origins, and how you can enjoy it in Nepal.

So, What is Tihar Festival

Tihar, also known as Deepawali or Yamapanchak, is a prominent Hindu festival celebrated with great enthusiasm and reverence in Nepal. It is a festival of lights that spans five days, where each day is dedicated to honoring and worshipping different animals and deities.

Similarly, Tihar holds immense cultural significance, reflecting the close relationship between humans,

Tihar Fireworks
Diyo & Rangoli

Celebration Dates and Duration of Tihar Festival

Tihar festival is usually celebrated in October or November, following the festival of Dashain. The exact dates of Tihar vary each year based on the lunar calendar of Hindu, adding an air of anticipation to the festivals. As for now, here are the most important five-days of Tihar festival:

Kaag Tihar (Day 1):

The festival kicks off with Kaag Tihar, the day dedicated to worshipping crows. In Nepali culture, these birds are regarded as messenger, and believed to bringing news and tidings from distant places. During Kaag Tihar, devotees offer various delicacies, such as sweets and grains, to crows as a sign of respect and gratitude for their divine connections.

Kaag Tihar (Crow Tihar)
kukur tihar
Kukur Tihar (Dog)

Kukur Tihar (Day 2):

The second day is devoted to celebrating the bond between humans and dogs. Dogs, known for their loyalty and companionship, are adorned with garlands, tika, and delicious treats. This unique tradition pays homage to the special bond between humans and dogs, showcasing the deep appreciation Nepalis hold for these faithful animals.

Laxmi Puja
Cow Tihar

Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja (Day 3):

The third day is Gai Tihar, also known as the “Cow Festival,” is a key component of Tihar’s cultural significance. In this day, cows are worshipped for their importance in providing milk, nourishment, and even spiritual significance. Their foreheads are marked with tika, a mixture of yogurt and rice paste, as a symbol of blessings.

At the evening, the celebration transforms into Laxmi Puja, honoring the goddess of wealth and prosperity. Homes and businesses are adorned with intricate rangoli (colorful patterns) to welcome the goddess. Oil lamps are lit to illuminate the surroundings.

Families perform a puja (worship) ceremony dedicated to Goddess Laxmi. Offerings of flowers, fruits, sweets, and coins are presented as a gesture of devotion.

Govardhan Puja and Mha Puja (Day 4):

Govardhan Puja, also known as Annakut Puja, is a significant part of the Tihar festival in Nepal. In this fourth day, various forms of food are offered to the deities mostly dedicated to Lord Krishna and his act of lifting the Govardhan Hill to protect the people of his village from a deluge.

Similarly, Mha Puja also known as the Newari New Year or the “Self Worship” ritual, is an integral part of the Tihar celebrations, especially among the Newar community. Each member of the family, including young children, participates in Mha Puja. They sit facing the mandala and offer worship to their own reflection.

Bhai Tika
Govardhan Puja (Krishna)

Bhai Tika (Day 5):

The final day of Tihar is dedicated to the bond between brothers and sisters. This ceremonial gesture celebrates the unique bond between brothers and sisters and holds immense cultural and emotional importance in Nepali society.

Sisters gather essential materials, including oil lamps, colored powders (tika), flowers, and sweets, to create a ceremonial space for their brothers. Before the ceremony begins, brothers cleanse themselves by taking a ritual bath and wearing fresh clothes.

After that, Sisters put tika on their brothers’ foreheads, applying a mixture of seven colors (sapta ranga tika) as a symbol of their protection and good fortune.

The ceremony concludes with brothers accepting sweets from their sisters, symbolizing the sweetness of their relationship and their shared bond.


Decorations and Lights in Tihar

During Tihar Festival, as the night come alive, the enchanting decorations & dazzling lights transform Nepalese homes, streets, & public spaces into a breathtaking spectacle making it a visual feast.

To make it more clearly for you, we will discuss how decoration and lights are done during Tihar.

Natural Decorations:

Rangoli and Alpana:

The first decoration that makes the festival alluring is rangoli and alpana designs at the entrance of homes. These vibrant patterns, crafted using rice flour, colored powders, and flower petals, welcome guests and honor the deities.


Marigold Garlands:

As Tihar approaches, homes are transformed into a fragrant oasis with the arrival of marigold garlands. Marigold, considered an auspicious flower, plays a prominent role in Tihar decorations.

Artificial Decorations:

Diyo and Mandal:

Oil lamps, known as diyos, are lit and placed around homes and public spaces. These diyos symbolize the victory of light over darkness and invite prosperity.


Electrifying Illumination:

Alongside traditional oil lamps, modern electric lights are also used to decorate homes and streets. Colorful fairy lights, lanterns, and LED decorations add a contemporary touch to the festive ambiance.

Symbolism of Decorations:

Goddess Laxmi’s Arrival:

The illuminated diyos serve as a beacon to guide Goddess Laxmi into homes, symbolizing her blessings of wealth and prosperity.

Warding Off Evil:

Lights are believed to dispel darkness and evil spirits, transforming homes into sanctuaries of positivity and protection.

Harvest Celebrations:

The illuminated decorations also coincide with the end of the harvest season, signifying the abundance and fruitful rewards of the land.

Festive Cuisine

Tihar, the festival of lights and happiness, not only illuminates homes but also tantalizes taste buds with its delectable festival cuisine. As families come together to celebrate this joyous occasion, the aroma of traditional dishes fills the air, creating a harmonious blend of culture and culinary artistry.

Indulging in Festive Flavors: Must-Try Tihar Dishes

Treats for the Soul: Sel Roti and Anarsa

One cannot truly experience Tihar without savoring the irresistible Sel Roti and Anarsa.

Sel Roti, a beloved Nepali doughnut-like snack, boasts a crispy exterior and a soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior. Its delectable taste is further heightened when paired with the equally delightful

Anarsa – sweet rice cakes coated in sesame seeds. These treats symbolize the festival’s spirit of sharing happiness and love.


Feast of Fruits: Offering to Goddess Laxmi

Fruits take center stage during Tihar as they are offered to Goddess Laxmi, the bestower of wealth and prosperity.

An array of seasonal fruits like oranges, bananas, apples & especially Pomelo graces the prayer altars, embodying gratitude for nature’s bounty. The act of offering fruits is a reflection of Nepali culture’s deep connection to the land and its blessings.


Savoring Sweets: Yomari and Malpuwa

Tihar is incomplete without the mouthwatering Yomari and Malpuwa. Yomari, a unique delicacy made from rice flour and filled with sweet fillings like jaggery and coconut, symbolizes the triumph of good over evil.

On the other hand, Malpuwa, a sweet fried pancake, adds a touch of sweetness to the festivities. Both treats offer a delightful fusion of flavors that resonate with the festival’s essence.

Social and Cultural Significance

In this chapter, we explore the profound social and cultural significance that Tihar holds within Nepali society. Beyond the festive lights and rituals, Tihar serves as a powerful thread that weaves connections and strengthens the cultural fabric of the nation. Starting with !

Family Unity: Tihar is a time when families come together, bridging distances and differences. The festival underscores the importance of family unity and kinship bonds.

Siblings, Symbols, and Sentiments: Ah, Bhai Tika, the day when sisters crown their brothers with tika, bestowing blessings and love. It’s not just a ceremony; it’s a manifestation of respect and affection, a reminder that these bonds are stronger than time. And as the tika mark adorns foreheads, it’s as if promises of lifelong camaraderie are etched there too.

Honoring the Divine and the Departed:

The rituals and offerings made during Tihar honor ancestors, acknowledging their role in shaping family histories and traditions.

Impact on Tourism

Beyond its profound cultural significance, Tihar has a remarkable impact on tourism and cultural exchange in Nepal. Travelers from around the world are drawn to this enchanting festival, eager to immerse themselves in its vibrant celebrations and authentic experiences. So, in this section, we will talk how Tihar has some impact on tourism:

Boost in Tourism Traffic:

Tihar Festival acts as a magnet for tourists, attracting a surge in both domestic and international visitors to Nepal. Tourists are drawn by the chance to experience the festival’s lively atmosphere, enjoy traditional music and dance performances, and partake in local feasts and delicacies.

Economic Impact and Hospitality Industry:

The flow of tourists during Tihar Festival brings about a substantial boost to Nepal’s economy. The hospitality industry witnesses increased bookings in hotels, homestays, and guesthouses. Additionally, local artisans and vendors benefit from the heightened demand for traditional crafts, clothing, and souvenirs.


Cultural Significance and Tourist Engagement:

The festival provides a unique opportunity for tourists to immerse themselves in Nepal’s rich cultural heritage.

From intricately designed rangoli decorations to the lighting of oil lamps (diyas) and the worship of animals like cows, dogs, and crows, tourists are given a chance to witness and participate in these rituals, fostering cross-cultural understanding and appreciation.

In Conclusion

As we come to the end of our journey through the vibrant tapestry of Tihar, it’s essential to recap the significance and unique features that make this festival a cherished gem in Nepal’s cultural crown.

So, Tihar is not just a celebration; it’s a reflection of Nepal’s deep-rooted traditions, values, and the unbreakable bond between humans, animals, and nature.

This festival is an open invitation to celebrate life, unity, and the beauty of Nepal’s traditions. As you bid farewell to Tihar’s festivities, remember that the spirit of unity, love, and respect can travel with you. Carry the lessons learned, the memories made, and the cultural exchange experienced during Tihar back to your own world.

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