Hills are often known for their quiet and peace, where the day dawns early, and the town sleeps by eight o’clock. The number of people hanging out in the streets by the nights is trifling. However, all of that changes in the month of October. The days seem to go on for longer, and the streets bustle with people. It has only been a few days that we have started to lose our post-holiday weight from Dasain that another festival has now come knocking at our doors. Dasain may be the favourite festival of the Hindu-Nepali culture, but Diwali a.k.a. Tihar is a close second.
With the lighted streets and houses and the smell of freshly cooked sel-roti in the fast approaching winter air, officially Diwali lasts for only three days, with Laxmi Puja marking the advent of Diwali. The Nepali Tihar has five days starting from Kaag Tihar-dedicated for crows, Kukur Tihar– for the dogs, Gai Tihar– for the cow, Goru Tihar – Ox/Bull leading up-to Bhai-Tika which is the last day of this festival. It is marked with the lighting of oil lamps or Diyas all around the house which symbolises the victory of light over darkness. Lord Rama returned to Ayodhya after his fourteen years of exile, triumphing over evil. The city welcomed the victor with diyas on the ground and firecrackers on the streets. The nights of Diwali are the brightest of the year, and can even be witnessed from the International Space Station.
The Nepali and Sikkimese Diwali are incomplete without Bhailo and Deusi. Bhailo and Deusi are the like the Nepali version of Christmas carol, except that it is played during Tihar or Diwali. Bhailo is played by the women, where they go from house to house, singing and dancing in return of Dakshina; a token of appreciation for their wondrous performance that keeps the age-old tradition going, which generally consists of cash and Diwali treats. Bhailo is played only on the first night of Diwali, which is the night of Laxmi puja.
Deusi similar to Bhailo is played by the boys on the day after Laxmi Puja. Deusi comes in small troops of young men with their traditional orchestra, expecting to load their capacious pockets with Dakshina. Modern minstrels tend to make smirky lyrics and roast their friends, which grabs the attention of the hosts, thus, making the setting jolly and light-hearted.
The third day is the day of Bhai-Tika, where brothers are garlanded and showered with blessings of good health and longevity by their sisters. A ritual is performed by the sisters, in which, the walnut is smashed open symbolising the end of negativity and hardships in their brother’s life. This is also the last day of Tihar, the end of which marks the beginning of the ice-cold winter in the hills.
Redendron family wishes every one of you a very happy Tihar. Make sure you stay away from firecrackers because it affects everything that we should be grateful for.