The fourth day of Tihar sees lights, colourful mandalas, delicious treats and an idolization of you.
Mha Puja falls on the fourth day of tihar and is performed by the Newar people to purify the soul as part of their New Year celebrations, Nhu Daya Bhintuna. Mha Puja means 'worship of the self' and the spirit inside one’s self. This Tihar, the ceremony also marked the beginning the new year, 1139 in the Nepal Sambat (national lunar calendar) as it beseeched welfare and longevity on the worshippers. The fourth day of Tihar sees lights, colourful mandalas, delicious treats and an idolization of you (gifts), Jajanka (holy thread), Mari (sweets), Dhau (yogurt), Masala (selection of dried fruits and nuts) Tika and Khen Sagun (an assortment of eggs, bara- a type of fried lentil donut, meat, fish and aila- an alcoholic drink).
The ritual is usually carried out on the floor that is cleansed using the same mixture of cow dung and red mud utilized the day before on Laxmi Puja The process might vary from family to family but the elements used are the same for all. The most essential ones required for Mha puja are the Mandala (spiritual or ritual symbols), Itaa (hand-woven cotton strands soaked in oil), Sagan people to protect the people of his village from the torrential rains caused by Indra, the king of the highest heaven. Goru Puja (Ox Worship) is also carried out on this day to honour the being’s contributions in Nepal’s predominantly agricultural society.
Govardhan Puja, the worshipping of Govardhan hill is also observed throughout the country on the same day with replicas of the mountain being made out of the cow dung in their the courtyards. The rituals are linked to the God, Sri Krishna who lifted Govardhan on his little finger to protect his villagers of Vrindhaaban.
Mha puja is important in terms of people acknowledging the necessity of understanding themselves and respecting their roles in the world. These festivals may appear a little too exhausting and unnecessary in modern times but one must discern that they were started for a reason. Man linked his health to the God’s blessings and his spirituality- not as scientific but some aspects are still relevant by today’s standards.
Text by : Reeya Pradhan
Picture credit : Rakesh Manandhar