Tihar is the second biggest festival in Nepal after Dashain celebrated by the entire Nepalese population albeit the religious or ethnicity aspect. Also known as Deepawali, Tihar is also dubbed as the festival of lights where the houses are decorated using multi colored lights, diyos (tiny oil lamp) and the entrance welcomes you with enchanting colorful rangolis. This festival is celebrated as for happiness and prosperity to one’s family. As a backpacker you might worry about the availability of the transportations or boarding facilities during festival season so here is a simple guide to what you can do if you happen to be travelling to Nepal during Tihar.
Transportation and Boarding - Unlike Dashain where the people go back to their hometown or village to reunite with family, Tihar is celebrated in their own houses and only some going back to celebrate. So you'll have no problem of finding transportation during the Tihar festival although it would be better to book your stay and trips 1 day or 2 day in advance. All public vehicles will be fully running so you will get around places with no problems. The hostels and hotels will be available and if lucky, they may hold some Tihar event. All in all, you can visit during Tihar with no worries regarding a place to stay or transportation!
Wander around - Tihar is the perfect time to go exploring. The main highlight of Tihar is that the entire city is lit up and colorful with fun rangolis and lights even in the streets and shops. The popular tourist streets will be even more bustling and busy with both locals and other tourists who have come together to celebrate Tihar. Visit temples during Kaag (Crow) Tihar and Kukur (Dog) Tihar where people celebrate with the strays and offer food. Especially in Thamel, which is now a no-vehicle zone, it is a walking delight with festive atmosphere and music blasting from every corner making it a unique experience.
Celebrate with kindness - Join in on the festive season by celebrating Tihar in orphanages, dog shelters or charity programs. It isn’t necessary for you to donate but spending time with the kids in the orphanages will definitely have a special meaning to the children and yourself! Distribute candies, sing songs, make rangolis, dance around and have a hearty meal with them. You can also observe or celebrate kukur-tihar (dogs are fed, groomed, put tika and flower necklace) at different animal shelters. Spread the love and happiness to their hearts! It’s a fun and kind way to celebrate Tihar.
Create - Rangolis are a form of art originating from Indian subcontinent and are popularly made as a decoration at home entrance during Tihar. Rangolis are simple geometric shapes of mandala like patterns or flower and petals using materials such as colored rice, dry flour, colored powders or flower petals. Participate or help your hostel/hotel or any orphanages to create rangolis and weave malas (necklace made of flowers and supari). It’s all about having fun with your artistic side and creating your own unique design. On the plus you’re also helping them out.
Events - Most restaurants, hostels and hotels have their own Tihar events targeted towards tourists. You can ask around where you’re staying about any events happening there or around your area so you can enjoy Tihar with friends and locals. Mini concerts are also held on the streets so it should be a fun experience to blend in dancing and singing with the crowd.
These are a few ideas you can try out if you have nothing planned out and happen to be in Nepal during the Tihar season. Despite these suggestions you can challenge yourself since there there are plenty of fun things that happen during Tihar especially in the evening so you will definitely enjoy it as a memorable festival season. Try out traditional Nepali clothes (Kurta and Lehenga for women and Serwani for men), and eat selrotis (sweet fried delicacy), celebrate it the traditional way by joining fellow locals during Deusi-Bhailo, it’s the little things together that make it a fun festival! Happy Tihar!