photos:Bijaya Bantawa, SnowlineNews & The Sikkim Times
Tihar or Tyohar/ Diwali: This festival of lights also know as the Deepavali means "a row of lights". This festival is celebrated to mark the return of Lord Rama, his consort Sita and brother Lakshmana, to their kingdom after 14 years of exile. To celebrate their return, the people of Ayodhya are believed to have lit up their houses and streets with lamps and the tradition is followed till date. People also conduct Lakshmi Puja to please the Goddess of Wealth.
It falls on the last two days of the dark half of Kartik (October-November). For some it is a three-day festival.
In Sikkim the festival honours certain animals on successive days. The first day known as "Kak(crow) Tihar" is dedicated to crows and they are offered rice and some if caught are even garlanded. On the second day, which is known as "Kukkur(dog) Tihar", dogs are garlanded. On the third day the cows are honored with garlands and their horns are painted in bright colors. It is the turn of the bullocks on the fourth day. The fifth day is also known as Bhai Tika in which brothers visit the homes of their sisters and they apply tikas vermilion to each other foreheads. It is also an occasion for exchanging gifts. During Tihar, traditional carols called Bailo or Deusi are sung.