Friday, 3 December, 2021

Festival Of Harmony

Nepal is so rich in cultural, lingual and ethnic diversity that the country is home to 125 caste/ethnic communities speaking as many as 123 languages. The nation is well-known throughout the world for the communal and religious harmony and tolerance. It is a matter of pride for all Nepalis that the country has not reported any communal strife so far. So, unity in diversity is one of the most prominent features of this country. Numerous festivals are celebrated throughout the year. Some of them are observed nationwide while others are area-specific. It needs no mention that each of the ethnic communities has their own language, culture, traditions, beliefs, rituals, festivals and costumes. Many foreigners often get amazed to find the country’s matchless social and cultural diversity. Describing the Kathmandu Valley’s various cultural monuments and festivals, British emissary Colonel William Kirkpatrick had once stated: “There are more temples than houses, more gods and goddesses than people and more festivals than days in a year.”

Tihar, which is also known as the festival of lights and flowers and brother-sister affection, is the second biggest Hindu festival in Nepal after Dashain. This year’s Tihar was celebrated last week with fanfare. Like other festivals, this five-day festival also brings family members, especially sisters and brothers, together. It also reflects the inter-relations between humans, nature and animals. On the first day, crows are worshipped as they are regarded as the messengers of Yamaraj (God of Death). The second day is dedicated to worshipping dogs which safeguard the house and is regarded as a faithful friend of man. Laxmi Puja falls on the third day of the festival. This day holds much significance as people worship Laxmi, who is the goddess of wealth and prosperity. In Hinduism, cows are considered as a manifestation of Goddess Laxmi. There is a belief that worshipping the Goddess Laxmi would bring economic prosperity to the family. So, in the evening, people illuminate their houses with oil lamps, candles and electric lights, and a variety of flowers.

Similarly, ox is worshipped on the fourth day of Tihar. Bhai Tika is the final day of this festival. On this day, sisters worship their brothers, offer tika and delicious foods and gifts to them. The sisters also pray for their brothers’ good health and long life. The Newar community celebrates this festival in a unique manner. They worship themselves on the fourth day of Tihar. They mark this day as Mha Puja. This community also observes that day as Nepali New Year. On the occasion of Nepal Sambat 1142 this year, Shankhadhar Sakhwa was remembered for his great contribution in clearing the debts of the people, paid from the gold he had painstakingly collected from rivers.

Meanwhile, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, in a message of best wishes delivered on Tihar festival, said that the festival helps foster harmony, tolerance and fraternity among all Nepalis. She also wished for peace, prosperity and happiness to one and all. In his message of best wishes, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba also hoped that the festival would help foster unity, love and affection between sisters and brothers.