Deusirey in Adelaide. Photo: Stephen Watts

Tihar, popularly called the festival of lights, was celebrated with festivities by the Bhutanese Hindus living in South Australia. Despite tight schedule in their jobs and studies, Bhutanese community members delightfully engaged in more festivities this year.

The festival had not been observed well in the past years due to fewer number of community members and feelings of loneliness in a new country.

Community members this year had formed over four deusi-vailo teams. Fellow Australians also joined these teams to celebrate the festival.

Deusi and vailo are special songs sung for last three days of this five-day festival. Traditionally, the songs tell the stories of brave heroes of the Hindu mythology. However, of late, the songs also incorporate themes on social change and such other important issues.

The deusi-vailo teams go from home to home playing songs and wishing for prosperity and wellness of the families. It is believed that the blessings by these groups turn into reality.

Hindus during this festival pray and feed crows on the first day and dogs on the second day. The third day is called laxmi puja when they do Deepawali, turning house luminous with lights, followed by praying and feeding cows on the fourth day. Cows are regarded sacred by the Hindus.

The final day of the festival is for exchanging blessings and wishes between brothers and sisters. Sisters offer tika, special colourful decoration on forehead, to their brothers.

Hindus mythologies say, on this particular day the god of death Yama goes to his sister’s house to receive tika, and on this occasion he gives relief to the dead ones who happened to go the Hell. The story of Tihar is also linked with other Hindu mythology – return of Lord Rama to his kingdom from 14 years of exile.

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