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Kukur Tihar: The Amazing Festival in Nepal Where Dogs are Worshiped

Anuj Mudaliar Nov 20, 2018
Dogs are the paragon of fierce loyalty and boundless love. In Nepal, Kukur Tihar festival is celebrated for these lovable canines..

Did You Know?

In Judaism, Jewish law requires Jews to feed their dogs before they feed themselves, and they also have to create proper provisions for food for the animals before they are brought to one's home.
Whenever one talks about dog festivals, usually, the first thing to come to mind is the cringe-worthy Yulin Festival in China. However, over here, the heartwarming dog festival we are talking about happens in Nepal, and it is very different in its concept and practices
Known as the Kukur Tihar, Kukur Puja, Khicha Puja, or Swanti, this festival sees the Nepalese people recognize dogs as their friends and protectors, and dedicate an entire day to man's best friend.

Why Kukur Tihar is Celebrated

The worship of dogs in Nepal stems from the beliefs of the Hindu religion. In a Hindu text, Rig Veda, the mythological mother of dogs by the name of Samara, assisted Indra, the King of Heaven, in retrieving stolen divine cattle.
Dogs are also believed to be the protectors and messengers of Yama, the God of Death. They are also known to be the special animal of Lord Bhairav, one of the most prominent Hindu gods in the nation, who protects devotees from spiritual and physical harm.
With such a major role in Nepalese culture, it is no surprise that there is an entire day dedicated to these amazing, intelligent animals. It is a certainty that, if more festivals like this were celebrated around the globe, the world would be a happier place.

How This Dog Festival of Nepal is Celebrated

Kukur Tihar is celebrated as a part of Tihar, the Nepalese version of 'Diwali'―the five-day Hindu festival of lights―which occurs annually somewhere during fall.
While the five days are focused on the relationship of humans with all beings in the universe, the celebration literally focuses on dogs on the second day, where these lucky canines are honored, loved, and treated with delicious snacks all day long. Let us look at the various rituals that are followed during this one-of-a-kind festival.

The Garland

On Kukur Tihar, dogs are draped with garlands of flowers. These garlands are called 'maallas', which symbolize respect and dignity. When the garland is put on the dog, it is a declaration that the animal wearing it is important, and that the prayers of the people are with the spirit of the dog.

The Vermilion

After the garlands are put on, the dogs are given a red mark, called 'tika', on their forehead and paws. This tika is made with a mixture of natural red dye, rice, and yogurt. The tika is said to symbolize the sacredness of the dog, and it also acts as a blessing to any person who encounters the dog on this day.

The Food

Now that the dogs are truly honored, it's time for the animal's favorite part of the day: the food offerings. A variety of items like eggs, milk, meat, and a fried sweetened bread called 'sel roti', are the most common treats that are fed to them.
In a sweet tradition, this honor is bestowed not just on pets, but also to homeless strays all across the country. On this day, every dog is a king. In certain temples, songs and dances also take place in their honor. Also, several competitions and ceremonies are held to honor dogs working in the national police or armed services.
During each of the five days of the Tihar festival, each day is devoted to honoring different entities, such as crows, dogs, and cows. The festival reminds the participants of the connection between all living things, which is essential for universal harmony; an important concept which humans forget about almost on a daily basis.
Remember that you don't have to live in Nepal to celebrate this festival. You can celebrate your dog just by being a caring and responsible owner. However, if you want to bring out the flowers and treats, we are sure that your pet will not complain. So, will you celebrate Kukur Tihar with your dog?