Goru Puja | Govardhan Puja | Mha Puja - Fourth Day of Tihar Festival
On the following day of Lakshmi Puja of Tihar Festival, Hindu people celebrate different events like Goru Puja, Govardhan Puja, and Mha Puja.
The fourth day of Tihar Festival is Kartik Shukla Pratipada which usually falls in late October or early November. Hindu people from Nepal celebrate different puja on this day. They perform Goru (Ox) Puja, Govardhan Puja and Mha Puja. Also, people from the Newari community in Nepal celebrate this day as a New Year as per Nepal Sambat calendar.
People also celebrates Deusi on this day of Tihar festival in similar way as they celebrated Bhailo in Lakshmi Puja. Like Bhailo, Desui also has its own traditional song. People celebrate Deusi singing Deusi song, and dance playing different popular songs. Mainly, Bhailo is popular among girls whereas Deusi is popular among boys.
Goru Puja (Ox Tihar)
Ox is a holy animal which is revered as the greatest devotee of Lord Shiva alongside being his chariot. It also provides manual labour, which is especially important in an agricultural country like Nepal. So, people worship and honor Ox in tihar festival and celebrate goru puja. They put tika and garlands and feed them different foods. On this day, people don't take their ox into the field for work. Along with Ox, farmers also worship the hali (plough). Hali is the agricultural tool which is used to plow the land with the help of Oxes.
Hindu people in Nepal perform Govardhan Puja. They worship the mountain made of cow dung which represents Govardhan mountain. There is a great legend behind Govardhan Puja which dates back to Lord Krishna's childhood.
People believe that Lord Krishna insisted people of Gokul to worship the mountain Govardhan rather than worshipping Lord Indra. He said that Lord Indra’s (god of rain) duty is to pour the rain. So, there’s no need to worship him for doing his duty. He insisted the villagers worship Govardhan mountain which provides natural resources to the villagers for their livelihood.
Following Krishna’s advice all farmers who worshipped Indra started worshipping the Govardhan mountain. Seeing it, Lord Indra got angry and poured uncontrolled rain over the village. Then to save the villagers, lord Krishna lifted the whole mountain with his little finger. After seven days, Indra gave up and bowed to Krishna's superiority.
The fourth day of Tihar also corresponds with the first day of the Nepal Sambat calendar. This calendar was started by Nepal’s first Philanthropist Sankhadhar Sakhwa. On this day, the Newari community celebrates Nehu-Daya Vintuna or happy new year celebration. They also perform a famous ritual called Mha Puja in which people worship their own soul living inside their bodies. People celebrate this festival Banging drums, ringing bells, and performing street dances based on religious script. Likewise, preparation of colorful mandalas, and Diwali are all part of the show. People also commemorate the life of Sankhadhar Sakhwa who devised the Nepal Sambat calendar.
Legend behind Nepal Sambat
People believe on this very day, a merchant from Kathmandu named Sankhadhar Sakhwa found a tremendous amount of gold mixed in sand in the banks of Bishnumati River. He then collected gold, and gifted it to king Ananda Malla and requested the king to free the people of Kathmandu of all their debts in return for the gold. So, this day also marks a day where people of Kathmandu valley were free from their debts. It leads towards the starting of a local Lunar new year.
Mah Puja Celebration
Mah Puja symbolizes the worship of one's own inner being or soul. People of the Newari community practice this puja. Each family member makes the mandala for them. They worship own's mandalas which symbolizes the Universe. Then they sit cross-legged in front of the mandalas. The eldest female representative of the family puts the colorful paste on their forehead. She gives each member an extra-long burning wick, which they place next to the Mandala. She also gives holy threads and a fruit basket to each member which symbolize their long life and good fortune.
After the completion of puja, the next part of the ceremony is Sagun Biyegu. One of the female members of the family offers the yogurt to all other members in line. Different food items are also served to the family member along with rice wine which is served three times to each. It is believed one should hold the bowl until the rice wine is refilled three times.
With the conclusion of the Govardhan Puja, Goru Puja and Nepal Sambat celebration, Nepalese families wait for the fifth and final day of the five days long Tihar festival.