Tihar is one of the major festivals of Nepal. The festival spans five days honoring Yama, the God of death, and worshipping laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth, in multiple ways. Yama and his agents are honored to ask for long lives, whereas Laxmi and her agents are worshipped seeking prosperity. Families also take the opportunity to clean up their valuables, make an inventory of their wealth and store their assets back into a safe deposit. Houses are adorned with garlands and fresh coats of paint, whereas and nights are illuminated with candles, oil-wick lamps, and butter lamps.
Kaag Tihar, the day for crows, is the first day of Tihar. Tales of Hindu mythology considers crow as the informant of Yama and that is the very reason why it is worshipped. People put out food at reach for the crows on their rooftops or courtyards.
Kukur Tihar, the second day of Tihar is for worshipping the dogs as they are also considered agents of Yama. In Hindu religion, a dog is a sacred animal, intended to have a special bond with a human, so as to accompany us on our way to heaven. During Kukur Tihar, the canines are treated with special love and admiration. Each one gets a flower garland or "mala" placed around its neck. The forehead is festooned with "tika" made from red and yellow colored powder, rice and yogurt. Each dog, whether home-owned or stray, receives such a special treatment.
Third day of Tihar is for the cows, known as Gai Tihar and Laxmi puja, Goddess of wealth. On this day the cow is offered prayers and food in the morning and Goddess Laxmi is offered elaborate prayers and puja in the evening. During the day of Laxmi puja, the Goddess of wealth is welcomed at peoples’ homes by making a path of footprints leading into a house. All lights are kept on and the doors and windows are kept open in a belief to let in goddess Laxmi. From this day onward, Tihar is celebrated with Bhailo and Deusi along with lights and fireworks. On the night of Laxmi Puja, girls visit the houses in the neighborhood and sing the Bhailini song, sometimes accompanied by musical instruments. Deusi is mostly sung by boys. The girls and boys wish blessings on the family of the houses they visit and they are offered food, money and gifts by the family of the houses where they visit.
Different Kinds of puja takes place on the fourth day of Tihar, depending on peoples’ cultural context. Newar community worships ox in the morning on this day by giving food and performs Mha puja in the evening. Mha Puja literally means worship of self. The Newars consider the Mha Puja important not only for understanding oneself but also respecting the other’s role in the world. People outside newari community devote fourth day of Tihar to worship ox and a mountain known as Govardhan. The ox’s dung is also taken as a representative of the mountain and worshipped.
Bhai tika winds up Festivals of lights-Tihar. This day is an opportunity for reunions and celebrations for siblings. Women pray for the longevity and prosperity of brothers. It is believed that a girl called Yamuna whose brother was ill, prayed for his long and healthy life. When Yama, the God of Death came to take her brother with him, she pleaded for some time to take care of her brother. Yama granted the wish to her. Then the girl performed a long ceremony for her brother and Yama. Yama was very pleased with her and promised her not to take her brother’s soul until the offerings of turf grass and the flowers remained fresh and unwilted. As the turf grass and the flowers remained fresh till the next Bhai Tika, Yama granted the boy a long life. From then on, the sisters began to worship their brothers for their long and healthy life.