I’ve seen some strange sights in my time, many in Nepal, but none stranger than those associated with Tihar (Diwali, in India, Festival of Light). Each day has a focus of specific worship in sequence Crows, Dogs, Cows, Self, Brothers, and today is the third day, known as Gai/Laxmi Puja, when cows are worshipped and revered in the morning, and the goddess Laxmi in the evening.
We were in Nepal staying with Dr C’s youngest brother this particular year and the sound of a bell ringing outside the house gates was the sign for my wife and her sister in law to dash out with a silver tray containing various Buddhist/Hindu “offerings”. In the lane I then witnessed Bimala, my sister in law, anoint a cow, led by its owner, with water, colouring and marigold flowers before casting rice over its head. Finally the cow was fed with fruit and sweets, the photo proves I didn’t dream it or make this up!
I always enjoyed Tihar festivals following on so soon after Dasain, each day with a different focus and temples amazingly lit up with candles and butter lamps. Lots of feasting too, mostly with Newari foods and their firewater, Ela. Tomorrow is New Years Day in the Newar People’s calendar too, so ….. Happy New Year to all our family and friends in Kathmandu.
“Lakshmi Puja is celebrated as a part of Tihar, a second national festival of Nepal after Dashain. In Nepal, it is celebrated for five days, which include Kag (crow) Tihar; Kukur (dog) Tihar; Gai (cow) Tihar in the morning and Laxmi pooja at night; Maha puja (self puja); and finally Bhai Tika (brothers).
On Lakshmi Puja in Nepal, people buy gold and silver, precious gemstones, new utensils of copper, brass and bronze as a sign of good luck, prosperity, money and wealth. These are then used to worship Lakshmi at night. Nepalese people perform this worship at a place cleansed with holy water, cow dung and red mud; they light the whole house with candles and lamps.