We are reminded time and again that we simply don’t deserve dogs. Our four-legged companions are so infinitely loyal, courageous, and loving that a world without them would be a sad place indeed. No one knows this better than the Nepalese who have a special date dedicated to celebrating the man’s best friend.
Kukur Tihar is the second day of the five-day Tihar festival celebrated around the new moon of the Kartik month (October-November). Tihar is the festival of lights which honors the relationship between humans and animals, and Day 2 is all about dogs.
Dogs in Hindu mythology
Dogs play an important role in Hindu mythology. Yama, the god of death, has two four-eyed dogs that stand guard at the entrance of his kingdom. The Hindus believe that all dogs are a link between the world of mortals and the god of death. Since Yama is responsible for dispensing justice, dedicating a festival to dogs is believed to appease the Lord of the Underworld.
The ancient Indian epic poem Mahabharata also repeatedly mentions dogs. Bhairava, one of Lord Shiva’s manifestations, uses a dog as his vehicle in the epic and Lord Dattatreya, the spiritual leader of mankind, is often shown in the company of four faithful dogs. The four canine companions are supposed to represent the four parts of the sacred Hindu texts called the Vedas.
Day of the dogs
During Kukur Tihar, people usually mark the foreheads of their dogs with a tika, a red mark that signifies that dogs are objects of worship.
People put floral garlands around the dogs’ necks and perform puja, a prayer ritual dedicated to Hindu deities. The garland is called mala and placing them on dogs acknowledges the deep bond between humans and canines.
After the devotional ceremony, dogs are given delicious treats as a way of showing gratitude for their faithful companionship. Treats typically include meat, eggs, milk, fried bread, and premium-quality dog food.
If the idea of people putting flower wreaths on their pets and giving them special treats isn’t heart-warming enough, you should know that Kukur Tihar is a day that celebrates all dogs – not just pets. This means that stray dogs get an equal amount of worship as dogs with owners.
On this special day, the people of Nepal make sure the strays are well-fed and volunteers build shelters for abandoned dogs.
So, if you’re a dog person, you know what your next holiday destination should be. Book a trip to Nepal and witness what it looks like when our furry friends get the attention they deserve.