With the big Dashain festival completed (counting as my festival #5) and my first full week in my new job behind me, it was surely time for another festival… Luckily, following close behind around October 23rd was the beautiful ‘festival of lights’ known as Tihar.
#1 Before the main event, all the important characters have been receiving their tikas. Here a quick sample from the day of the dog tika or pujaa (worship), the cow tika and between Dashain and Tihar there was even a chance to offer vehicle pujaa;
#2 As instructed I had managed to preserve the rakshya bandhan I gained back at the Janai Purnima festival in August. Instructions; this band should only be removed on the occasion of Lakshmi Puja (October 23rd this year) when it should be tied onto the tail of a cow. So, whilst wandering the picturesque streets of Bhaktapur watching the preparations for Tihar get underway my friends managed to find me this helpful young lady and my mission was completed (note her cow tika is also in place so she is now a very well dressed cow!?);
#3 The streets of Bhaktapur were absolutely bustling with people and vendors getting ready for the various rituals involved in Tihar. Special pujaa sets, seven distinct colours of tika powder ready for the day of brother tika (where sister’s give their brothers a special seven coloured tika for long life) and special food parcels being prepared and wrapped in leaves;
#4 From Bhaktapur I headed on eastwards along the Kathmandu valley back to Tusal where we had received such a warm welcome during our Dashain hike. Throughout Tihar the locals decorate their houses with bright lights (known as jilli milli) and the city and villages are ablaze with twinkling lights. On the evening of Lakshmi Puja people decorate their houses even further to pray to the Goddess Lakshmi for prosperity and well-being. Here the neighbours are putting the final touches to their display by lighting a chain of small oil candles to lead Lakshmi in from the family shrine up the stairs and deep into the house;
#5 Another example from another local house we visited. The trail leads again from the small family shrine into the two adjoining houses – helping Lakshmi find her way;
#6 Every house had it’s own design. The only exception being for families in which someone has recently passed away. In Hindu culture, there are many distinct activities which take place to mark the passing of a family member. One of which is to not celebrate any festivals for a defined period of time depending on your relation to the deceased;
#7 The more colourful (or rangichangi) the better is the motto as the happier Lakshmi is with your display, the more blessings for wealth and property in the coming year she will bestow upon your household;
#8 And last but not least some special food; sel roti a “deep fried rice flour bread”. Though not unique to Tihar, this was suddenly the snack of choice and freshly home-cooked as seen here I can confirm it is delicious!