On a virtually dark night, people of the Kathmandu valley make the city glow to celebrate
Tihar symbolizes illumination; houses draped with hanging lights, diyos (oil lamps) lined on windowsills and paths, disco lights projected from shops, firework displays and jhirjhires (mini flares). And the third day of this festival is particularly ostentatious and for all the right reasons.
Laxmi puja is carried out in dhukutis (safes and lockers) to please the particularly wealthy goddess to bless them with financial growth and stability.
The day starts off with members of family taking showers for obvious religious reasons and cleaning their house in order to welcome the deity and make her stay a little prim and proper. As the day is also known as Gai Tihar (Festival of Cows), people head to cowsheds to venerate the holy animal whose status is seen as motherly for providing the life sustaining milk. After honouring the cows and feeding them, people usually prepare for the puja (worshipping) happening at night. Sel roti (sweet rice-flour treats) is also prepared at home by the female folk as an offering. People attempt to buy gold, silver, precious gemstones, utensils of copper, brass and bronze as the objects are considered to be a sign of good luck, prosperity, money and wealth, when bought on the prosperous day. They are also components of the worship that is carried out later at night. The path that leads up to the dhukuti is cleansed and manifested using blessed water, a mixture of red mud and cow dung, footprints made from red colour to resemble Laxmi’s, diyos and rangolis (pattern art created with powdered colours). Later at night, families privately give their offerings to Laxmi, entertaining the Bhaili dances and songs as the day ends with a bright flash of colours in the vacant night sky.
Text by : Reeya Pradhan
Picture Credit : Rakesh Manandhar