Dipawali: The Festival Of Light

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Dipawali, festival of light, is also known by many names such as diwali, Tihar, Bhai Teeka or Laxmi Puja.

It is celebrated for fives days. It is another festival that comes right after Dasain. Hindus worship different animals such as the crow, dog, cow and goddess of fortune or wealth (Goddess Laxmi). They celebrate this festival by cooking a variety of foods at home, playing with fire, cards, and decorating homes and streets with beautiful light.

The first day of tihar is known as 'Kag tihar', crows day. On this day crows are offered food on a plate made out of leaves in the morning before anyone in the house takes food. In the kingdom of Nepal crow is not killed because, as a legend says, one crow happened to drink the water of life. Thus you can see crows sitting everywhere, without the fear of human beings. Crow the messenger of death is honored on the first day of tihar.

The second day is called 'Kukur tihar', dogs day. A dog plays many roles in our society. We have dogs in our houses as guardians of the house. As the legend also says, there is a dog at yama's (one of the Gods) gate guarding the gate to the underworld. The dog is also the steed of the fearful Bhairab, the god of destruction. So on this day a big red tika (temporary mark on forehead), is put on a dog's forehead and a beautiful garland around the neck. After worshiping the dog, it is given very delicious meal. This day the saying 'every dog has his day' comes true, for even a stray dog is looked upon with respect. We pray to the dog to guard our house as he guards the gate of the underworld and to divert destruction away from our homes. On this day you can see dogs running around with garlands on their necks.

The third day is the most important day of the festival. It is called 'Laxmi puja', The day when we worship the goddess of wealth. On this day, early in the morning, the cow is worshiped. Tika is put on her head and a garland around her neck then she feasts with delicious food. A cow also symbolizes wealth and she is the most holy animal for Hindus. Cow is the national animal of Nepal.

Dipwali is the festival when sisters wish a long life to their brothers.

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