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New flamboyance, same old flair

  • Tihar’s changing face
KATHMANDU, NOV 13 -

With changing times, the festival of Tihar has kept up with new traditions and enhanced technologies. Once known as the festival of lights and prosperity, Tihar has now become a festival of flamboyance.

Ever since the Malla period, this festival was equally famous among Hindus and Buddhists. Despite all the colour and lights, Tihar used to be celebrated with modesty when I was young. It was more about the cordial relations between brothers and sisters but now, it has been transformed into a show-off with the newly developed tradition of exchanging expensive gifts. Back then, there were no electric bulbs, candles or other modern electronic appliances that are now seen in every house. We used to use locally made palas.

The five days of Tihar, also known as Panchak, used to be the time when locals gathered around Indrachowk, Basantapur and the Ason areas to gamble. The Ranas would publicly announce the beginning of gambling, including the play of Kauda since the beginning of Tihar. It was a public event so there were no restrictions on gambling. However, this practice exists no longer. Although people gamble secretly in their houses with their family and friends, it is now illegal to play cards, especially during the festivals.

Even the sweets that are bought in huge amounts during Tihar are not the same as they used to be. The halwai, a group traditionally known for making sweets, would run their shops in different parts of the Valley like Ason, Indrachowk, Jyatha and Naradevi. There were locally available sweets like rato puri (usually offered to the goddess Laxmi), lakhamari, khajuri and namkin. However, these days, Indian vendors dominate the traditional sweet market in the city. Some of the local Halwai shops have closed down due to a lack of demand.

A lot has changed but no one denies that Tihar still carries its old flair and during this joyous time, people celebrate as if there is no tomorrow.

As told by 78-year old Biddhya Bahadur Bajracharya, a local of Pyukha, New Road

Posted on: 2012-11-14 09:57


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