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Nepali speaking regions in Nepal and India are observing the Hindu festival of lights, Diwali known as Tihar.
The Tihar festival is celebrated with a twist in these regions as a five-day festival.
On the first day is Kaag Tihar, a day marked to pay respect to crows. In mythology, the bird is one of the messenger of Yamraaj, Lord of death.
The second day is Kukur Tihar, a day marked to pay respect to dogs, the most loyal and loved friend of the human species. It is also considered as one messenger of Lord Yamraaj.
The third day is the auspicious Gai Tihar, also known as Laxmi Puja. The day is marked by worshipping the cow, a sacred animal for Hindus, which is followed by the worship of Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth.
The fourth day is Goru Tihar also knows as Govardhan Puja. The day is marked by paying respects to an Ox, a reverer animal for helping human species in daily activities. A hill made of Cowdung is also worshipped on this day as Lord Mount Govardhan, an aspect of Lord Vishnu.
On the fifth and final day of the Tihar festival is Bhai Tika, a highly celebrated festival where sisters pray for the long lives of one’s brother. It is believed that on this day Lord Yamraaj and his sister Goddess Yami blesses those brothers and sisters who observe the ritual of applying “tika”.
The Nepali speaking belt celebrates the festival with much fanfare. Groups of women and men go to individual households to perform the traditional “Bhailoni” and “Deusi” songs, after which they are offered money, food and sweets.
Dipawali festival known as Tihar is celebrated for all the five days by lighting lamps and decorating households. This festival is marked across Sikkim and Darjeeling hills with grandeur and devotion.
(Edited by Ladiangti Rani)