Laxmi Puja, a day dedicated to the worship of the Hindu goddess Laxmi, is being observed across the country today.
Traditionally falling on the third day of the Tihar festival, this year it coincides with the second day of Tihar, along with Narak Chaturdashi and the Kukur Tihar, the festival dedicated to the worship of dogs.
The five-day Tihar, also known as the Yamapanchak, commenced on Saturday.
Laxmi Puja is being observed this evening by worshipping Laxmi, the goddess of wealth, affluence, and prosperity, with devotion. On this day, people clean their houses and surrounding, illuminate their homes, and light butter lamps to 'invite' the goddess to their homes, in the belief that the goddess Laxmi detests the house which is unclean and untidy.
The night of Laxmi Puja is also known as Sukha Ratri, meaning the night of happiness as it is believed that Goddess Laxmi comes to reside in the house on this special night.
To 'welcome' the goddess in the house, devotees make the footprint signs from their courtyard up to the main altar. In the evening of Laxmi Puja, troupes of teenage girls from the neighbourhood sing 'bhailo' songs amidst dancing and merriment.
The bhailo troupes visit house to house in the neighbourhood performing the bhailo cultural songs and dance. In return, the house-owners, especially mothers, give them various presents like paddy, rice grain, flower garlands, money, and 'sel roti', a special delicacy cooked in ghee.
It is believed the house-owner is bestowed with blessings from the goddess by presenting the donation to these bhailo troupes. Night illumination is carried out at homes by lighting electric lights and butter lamps. Some people also worship the cow in the morning on Laxmi Puja in accordance with their family tradition.