The mountains are a different world altogether and so are their culture and traditions. Make it a point to visit the hills during the festive season when the ever smiling, cheerful and hardy people pay obeisance to all forms of life.
If Diwali is the festival of lights, Tihar- as the festival is christened in the Hills is the time to strengthen camaraderie within the community and celebrate the communal harmony.
The celebration kicks off with Kak Tihar, and the day is dedicated to the crows. These birds are fed and people even try and garland them on this day.
The dogs have a day out the next day when the hill people celebrates Kukur Tihar. For a change, people even feed the stray dogs and garland them with the ubiquitous marigold as it is believed that the dogs are one of the first animal that people encounter on the way to Lord Yama’s- the messenger of deaths, abode.
The festival reaches fever pitch with Goru/Gai (Cow) tihar. The cow which symbolizes Goddess Laxmi is worshipped on this day. Every house is tastefully decorated with marigold flowers and after the evening puja, young girls in their finery move around the neighbourhood singing bhailoni songs. The elders on their part bestow monetary gifts to the giggling belles who usually try to cover as many houses as possible in the evening.
The boys too follow a similar tradition which is know as deusi. Men young and old playing musical instruments go from door to door singing praises about King Bali- a mythological Hindu figure. The deusi continues till the day of the full moon starting a day before Bhai Tika.
On the day of Bhai Tika sisters anoint tika on their brothers’ foreheads, who in turn, pledge to protect the sisters at all times.
The tradition of bhailo and deusi is still carried out with much pride and enthusiasm which also helps in building a strong bond within the community.
You will be in for a pleasant surprise if you believe that tihar is only celebrated by the predominant Hindu population. Whether it is the Hindus, Muslims, Buddhist or the Christians, the hill people have no qualms in celebrating the sprit of the festival.
Christmas is no different. People from various denominations of the Christian fraternity join hands for a grand celebration at Chowrasta.