The second biggest festival celebrated in Nepal is Tihar. This festival is celebrated for five consecutive days from the Triayodashi of Krishnapakchya in the month of Kartik. This period of five days is also known as Yamapanchak. There is a Mythological legend about Yama Panchak which states, that the son of Lord Surya and the god of death, Yamraj, came to Yamuna his sister’s house at Martyalok (earth), and stayed as her guest during these five days as her guest and after Bhai Tika, receiving seven colors tika on his forehead from his sister returned to Yamaoka. On the first day of Yamapanchak, the messenger angel of Yamraj, the Crow is duly worshiped and given a delicious meal while on the second day, or the day of the Kartik Krishnapakchya Chaturdashi (Kukur Tihar), the Dog considered as doorkeeper or guard is too duly worshiped by giving a delicious meal with an offering of garland around his neck. According to legend, the dog who is the gatekeeper of Yamraj in Yamlok, if today is worshipped, it is a common belief that it will give or show the way to heaven after one’s death. At the end of the Dwapar Yug (dwapar epoch), there is a reference in History and Mythology that when Pandavas were going to Heaven, along with four brothers and Draupadi, Yudhisthir’s wife died on their way, Dharmaraj Yudhishthir was led and taken to the door of heaven by a dog.
In general practice also, dogs are treated as obedient, helpful, and protective of humans. Thus, this day’s festival of Kukur Tihar honors dogs who assist people in their tasks ranging from home care and security to crime prevention, and special investigations to control criminals.
The acts to be performed during Narak Chaturdashi – Kukur Tihar
Karthik Krishnapaksa’s Chaturdashi, Kukur Tihar date is known as Narak Chaturdashi. On this day, there is a traditional scripture law of (अभ्यङ्गस्नान = ritual bath) bathing anointing with oil in the early morning to get rid of hell. In the morning, before the light of the sun, the body should be bathed after rubbing the body with sesame oil, aromatic substances, sandalwood, etc. On this day Goddess Lakshmi is in the sesame and Ganga in the water, thus all the sins are destroyed by this bathing ritual followed by rubbing the body with sesame oil, etc as mentioned in the previous line and, the classical statement states one would not need to see or visit hell. Before bathing, prickly chaff flowers (अपामार्ग = Apamarga) leaves should be submerged in water and rotated around the heads. Addressing the chaff flower leaves, saying, the number of rotations I make of you around my head, please take away my sins of the same number. The scriptures mention this ritual to be performed by reciting the mantra mentioned below.
हर पापमपामार्ग भ्राम्यमाणः पुनः पुनः।।
After the ritual bathing, one should bow and give tarpan (यमतर्पण= Yama Tarpan) (satiating with water/sate) to Yamraj with his fourteen names mentioned below. The scriptures mention, facing the southern direction, with one’s Janau / Janai on the Sabya (Janau worn the correct way) the offering of water mixed with sesame seeds three times to each of the names of Yamaraj will liberate from the sins committed during a year.
१. यमाय नमः।
२. धर्मराजाय नमः।
३. मृत्यवे नमः।
४. अन्तकाय नमः।
५. वैवस्वताय नमः।
६. कालाय नमः।
७. सर्वभूतक्षयाय नमः।
८. औदुम्बराय नमः।
९. दध्नाय नमः।
१०. नीलाय नमः।
११. परमेष्ठिने नमः।
१२. वृकोदराय नमः।
१३. चित्राय नमः।
१४. चित्रगुप्ताय नमः।
There is a Scriptural and theological injunction that those who have their father alive also need to perform this offering to Yamaraj. Eating or consuming food with the green leaves of black gram today is reported to be of great benefit. Donations of oil lamps during the evening time are also of great importance, the same as those of ritual baths and Yama tarpan as mentioned above on this day of Narak Chaturdasi. According to the instructions mentioned in Skanda Purana, the temple and monasteries of the gods as Brahma, Bishnu, Shiva, Ganesh, Durga, etc. during the evening before (Pradosh) darkness falls Deepawali (lighting oil lamps) must to be performed. Similarly, to get rid of hell, one should make donations, reciting the mantra below by lighting lamps made out of four threads of wool, dedicated to the love of Yamraj.
दत्तो दीपश्चतुर्दश्यां नरकप्रीतये मया।
According to mythological narration, the monster named Narakasur had been abducting celestial nymphs and gods, humans and Gandharvas (celestial singers/ musicians) 16 thousand girls/nephews and was holding them in captivity by hiding them in an outrageous manner. One day, while fleeing after robbing ear ornaments of the Goddess Aditi, Lord Krishna killed Narakasur and freed 16 thousand girls and later, he even married everyone in order to make the girls live a respectable life in society. Legend has it that the tradition of observing Narak Chaturdashi by donating oil lamps was started in the event of Narakasur being slaughtered by Lord Krishna and freeing the girls from Narakasurs bondage. To Read this article in the Nepali Language please click here.