Our guest contributors originally created this article for their newsletter subscribers and generously allowed us to reprint it for our T Ching readers. Some of T Ching’s most popular categories are ones that share meaningful cultural tea traditions around the world. Thank you, Ishan Mainali, Shefali Upreti and Kajina Shrestha of the Nepal Tea Collective.
Nepalese Tea Ceremonies for Tihar
Greetings from Kathmandu. We’re right in the middle of Tihar and while all of us have been sipping tea with our friends and family, I wanted to write a bit about Tihar, or Diwali, and how tea is always the center of any celebration in Nepal.
Day 1: Kaag Tihar – Crow Appreciation Day
Morning arrives with the sun peeking over the hills, painting the sky in hues of gold and pink. It’s Kaag Tihar, a day to start the festival with a cheerful caw and a handful of goodies for our wise-feathered friends. While the crows chatter and swoop around, a steaming cup of Nepali tea is the perfect sidekick, its warmth matching the sunrise. With a playful toss of sweets to our chatty companions, the day begins with laughter and gratitude, shared with the avian heralds of our mornings.
Day 2: Kukur Tihar – Celebration for Man’s Best Friend
The next day dawns with a wagging tail and a hearty ‘good morning’ to our furry buddies. It’s Kukur Tihar! As we dress our beloved dogs with garlands and sprinkle their foreheads with a bright red tika, a shared tea moment unfolds, amidst playful barks and tail wags. We do have to be a bit careful with tea while amongst our furry pals, for they do not quite understand the difference between playtime and teatime.
Day 3: Gai Tihar and Laxmi Puja – Honoring Cows and Goddess Laxmi
This day is abuzz with a different kind of moo-sic! Gai Tihar brings the gentle beauty of cows into focus. Adorned with colorful decorations and showered with delectable treats, they embody grace and abundance. As the sun sets, the house is a whirlwind of activity, preparing for Laxmi Puja. Amidst the aromatic scent of brewing Nepali tea among the preparatory breaks, we light up oil lamps, lay out colorful rangolis, and welcome Goddess Laxmi, the divinity representing wealth and prosperity.
Day 4: Mha Puja – Honoring Self and Well-being
The rhythm of Tihar continues with Mha Puja, a day dedicated to self-reflection and honoring oneself. As the day unfolds, families gather to celebrate the essence of well-being and personal growth. The ceremony involves intricate rituals symbolizing the purification and strengthening of the soul. As the air fills with the aroma of incense and the sights of colorful decorations, a moment of quiet reflection emerges. In the midst of this self-celebration, a cup of aromatic Nepali tea becomes a companion for introspection, a pause for gratitude for one’s journey, and a soothing sip amid the hum of familial connections. It’s a day of looking inward, nurturing the soul, and embracing the beauty of self-appreciation amidst the festival’s joyful celebrations.
Day 5: Bhai Tika – Celebrating Sibling Bonds
As the final day of Tihar unfolds, it’s all about sibling love! Sisters assemble, setting up vibrant puja thalis adorned with tika and garlands, awaiting the arrival of their brothers. Amidst the laughter and love shared during the rituals, tea becomes a symbol of the warmth and comfort in these cherished bonds. Sipping tea together, they exchange stories, blessings, and gifts, basking in the glow of a festival that celebrates the essence of family ties.
Tihar dances through each day, and like a fragrant pot of tea brewing in the background, it weaves a thread of warmth and togetherness through these cherished moments. The festival and tea blend seamlessly, offering moments of connection, tranquility, and celebration.
And as the Holidays arrive in the States and elsewhere, the demand for tea as a refreshment might be more than ever. There are perhaps few occasions as momentous as sharing a cup of Nepali tea with your friends and family over the Holidays.