Tihar Festival in Nepal

Tihar Festival in Nepal 2023

Tihar festival is the second great festival of Hinduism also named Deepawali and the festival of light. According to Hindu’s beliefs, norms, and culture, Tihar is a very important festival for maintaining peace harmony, and wealth at the home and among family members. It is taken as the second greatest festival after Dashain in Nepal. The whole country celebrates the festival.

When is Tihar celebrated?

Tihar generally falls on the month of Kartik (October-November). Exactly in Trayodashi of Kartik Krishna Pakshya and ends with Vatika in Dwitiya of Kartik Suklapakshya every year. It falls on the mid of autumn season. So, the environment remains beautiful with different flowers blooming on the surrounding.

Why do we celebrate Tihar festival?

As some stories and rationales lie behind every event. There are various stories about the celebration of Tihar as well. One of the famous story behind the celebration of Tihar festival is related to Yama the god of death and his sister Yamuna.

Story behind Tihar festival:-

This story is an old story believed to be a real incident of Satya Yug and is passed from generation to generation through different methodologies.

Yama had been staying away from his sister for a long time. His sister wanted to meet him. So she asked various sources to visit him and ask him to give her a visit. She sent crow, dog, and cow and at the end she went herself to see her brother. She worshiped him with tika and flowers, she put him seven colored tika.

Yamuna made a circle with mustard oil, Dubo Grass (Cynodon Dactylon) and put Makhmali Mala (Globe Amaranth), and asked Yamaraj not to go till the oil, Dubo Grass and the flower gets dry. Therefore, every sister worships her brother keeping him in the circle of mustard oil, putting mala (garland) of Makhmali flower and Dubo grass.

These components never dried out and the tika Yamuna put on her brother’s forehead protects her brother and he remains alive forever.

The entire festival of Tihar is celebrated with respect and belief in this story. A great respect towards animals, plants and deep love between brother and sisterhood is the basis of celebrating Tihar.

How do Neplease celebrate Tihar festival?

Nepalese celebrates Tihar for five days which is also known as yamapanchak. Each days are special for the worship of different living beings.

The first day – Kag Tihar (crow puja)

Tihar Festival in Nepal kag  Tihar
crow puja

Kag tihar is the beginning day of the greatest festival Tihar. Yama Panchak begins from this day. There is a belief that if any people dies on this yama Panchak then they will directly reach Heaven.

People worship the crow as the god of the messenger of death. They give delicious food and water to crow on this special day. People believe the crow gives messages to the house in the morning. People worship it to bring good luck themselves. 

The second day- Kukur Tihar (Dog Puja)

kukur puja Tihar Festival in Nepal
Dog puja

Kukur Tihar is the second day of the Tihar. People worship dogs by putting garlands, tika, and delicious food on dogs and showing a good relationship between humans and dogs.

Dogs occupy a special place in Hindu mythology Dog guards every home or street and they get special respect in this day. According to MahabharataBhairava, a mysterious object of Lord Shiva, had a dog as a vahana (vehicle). There is a saying that Yama, the god of death, own two guard dogs – each with four eyes. Those dogs watch over the gates of Naraka, (the Hindu concept of Hell). Owing to this belief, this day is also observed as NarakaChaturdashi.

Third day- Gaitihar (cow puja)

cow puja Tihar Festival in Nepal
Cow puja

in hindu religion, Cow is also known as our mother because we grow up drinking her milk. Some look cow as Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity.

Hindu worship cows in the morning of the third day of Tihar. They use Sesame oil light, garland of flowers, and red color (abir) for worshiping cows. They feed cow by giving wheat flour, sel roti, rice, and dal. Disciples try to pass in-between four legs of the cow.

3rd Day Evening Special 

In the afternoon we clean our houses, and paint floors with Red Mud (RatoMato) and cow dung (gobar). People make Small circles in front of the main gate and decorate them with colorful designs. Some people call it rangoli.

Depawali Ragoli

People paint small designs of footsteps  from the main entrance to the puja kotha. These footsteps are alike to the footsteps of goddess Lakshmi. People lit candles, dio (pala) and different colourful lights for making houses bright and beautiful. 


There is a long tradition of going to different houses in the evening singing songs to enjoy on Tihar. There is system of giving money and delicious food for such groups. Generally girls and kids go out to neighbour, sing traditional songs called Bhailo songs. The tradition is called “Bhailo” and songs are called Bhailini song.

The song starts with “Bhailini aain agana gunyo cholo magna, hey ausiko din gai tiharo bhailo”. Badalikudalirakheko, laxmipoojagareko, hey ajakodinagaitiharobhailo…” Meaning Bahilini are at your door to ask for a gunyocholo (Nepali traditional dress), today is new moon day and Cow pooja and Bhailo day, the house is clean and you have done Lakshmi puja, today is cow pooja day and Bhailo”.

Kids enjoy with blowing Fire crackers in this day.  People play cards in Laxmi puja to welcome goddess Laxmi in the night and believe that Laxmi comes to the house which is clean and bright. 

laxmi Puja Tihar Festival in Nepal
Laxmi puja

In the evening, people glow numerous lights and do lightening works. Then only they worship goddess laxmi. Therefore tihar is also known as festival of light. Hindu believe worshiping Laxmi and pleasing her gives wealth and creat peace and harmony on house. People worship wealth and food store this day.

Fourth day – Goru Tihar 

Govardhan puja (GoruTihar) includes three different Kinds of puja. They are Goru Puja, goverdan puja and mah puja. We worship oxen as goru puja because oxen supports farmers for digging field and carrying loads. We do Goverdhan puja by making a hill of govardhan parbat using Cow dung. Cow dung has great importance in Hindu culture. In the old days, people use dung for light night (Methane) to polish mud floors of traditional houses.

 Still now cow dung is very important to complete puja in Nepali Hindu culture.The scientific reason of using cow dung is to make the place bacteria free as well.

In this night Newar community perform Maha Puja also known as self-puja to purify our body. In this puja, newar people make Mandap with Saipatri (marigold flower), sweets and fruits and a special garland of thread.

Tihar Festival  in Nepal
mandala of mah puja

Each member of the family has one Mandap. A female member of the family offers the person sitting on the Mandap a Sagun with cross hands. Shagun usually consist of fried eggs, fruits, sweets, meat, fish, lentil and pastries. In the left hand with egg and fish and in the right hand Rakshi (homemade alcohol). This day is also the beginning of Nepal Sambat, Newari New year.  

4th Day Evening Special 

 In the evening many Nepali children and young men go house to house singing Deusi song (Aahai bhanamera bhai ho deusi re bhanana bhana deusere). Deusi is very similar to Bhailo. Bhailo is primarily for female and Deusi for male. However, now a days there is such distinction. People go in group with males and females members to celebrate Bhailo and deusi both. 

playing  Duisi vailo
Duisi vailo


Fifth Day – Bhai Tika or Bhai puja

The fifth and last day of Tihar is Bhai Tika. This day sisters put “Tika of seven colours” saptaRangiTika–Red, yellow, green, orange, blue, indigo and white on forehead of her brothers, to ensure long life and pray to Yamraja for her brother’s long life and prosperity. Sister offers brothers Shaguns of dry fruits especially walnut, hazelnut (Katus), fruits and sweets and in return the brothers give their sisters gifts and money. The brothers also put saptaRangi Tika to sister and bow her on her feet and assure her to protect her till the end of life.

Vai- tika on tihar
Vai- tika

On this day, Rani Pokhari Temple (located at central Kathmandu) is opened for those who do not have any brother or sister. This is the only time in a year the temple is open to general public.

Tihar Dates in 2023 

Katik 25,2080 B.S.- November, 11, 2023 – Kag Tihar (crow puja)

Katik 26,2080B.S.- November, 12, 2023 –  Dog festival, laxmi Puja

Katik 28,2080 B.S.- November, 14, 2023 – Goru Tihar / Govardhan Puja

Katik 29,2080 B.S.- November, 15, 2023 –  Bhai Tika 


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