Lakshmi Puja - The Day of Worshipping Cows and Goddess Lakshmi
Lakshmi puja is one of the main days of Tihar festival which falls on the third day of festival. People worship cows and Goddess Lakshmi on this day.
On the third day of Tihar Festival, Hindu people in Nepal worship cows in the morning and celebrate Lakshmi puja at night. Birth anniversary of Maha Kabi Lakshmi Parsad Devkota falls on the same day every year. People celebrate this day with great joy since this is the day of Goddess Lakshmi.
Cow is a very significant and revered animal in Hindu religion. People believe it as an incarnation of Lakshmi, the goddess of riches. So, cows are linked directly with wealth.
Nepalese people start this day of Tihar Festival with worshiping cows. They show their gratitude to the cow by praising it with tikas and garlands. They also provide different food items to cows.
There is also the practice of tying doro (‘sacred thread tied in hand on Janai Purnima') in the tail of cows on this day. People believe that they will find the cow while crossing the river to heaven (“Baitarani Khola”). They also pass from under the cows which symbolises crossing the gate of heavens.
After worshipping cows, people make sweet dishes along with sel roti to offer to the goddess Lakshmi. They clean their house and decorate it. People hang marigold garlands on the doors and windows.
In the evening people make rangoli at the entrance of the houses. They draw a path with the red mud from rangoli up to the puja ghar. On that path they make a symbol of Lakshmi footsteps. Then they place the diyos on the path as well as in the doors and windows.
After all the preparation is completed, they perform Lakshmi Puja on the puja ghar. At that time the diyos and all the lights of the house are lit up. It is believed that the diyos show the entrance and the path to the puja ghar to Goddess Lakshmi. Also, people recite Lakshmi Puran and Lakshmi stotram books to please the goddess during the puja.
After Lakshmi Puja, small children as well as grown up people gather with friends to play Bhailo. They visit people's houses and celebrate Bhailo with great joy. They sing traditional Bhailo songs and dance together. The house owner puts tika on them and provides grains, fruits, sel roti along with a sum of money. Then the Bhailo player leaves the house giving the blessing of Goddess Lakshmi for wealth and prosperity.