By Mayukh Saha
Nepal has a 5-day celebration for “Diwali” just before we engage in Halloween celebrations. While 4 days are devoted to other celebrations and “pujas”, the second day of the festival, Kukur Tihar, is dedicated solely to celebrate the human-dog bond.
Diwali is the festival of lights, an important celebration for Hindus. Mostly celebrated in India, Nepal too joins in the celebrations.
Kukur Tihar honors and celebrates all the dogs in the country as a way for the people of Nepal to express their gratitude to these loyal beings. Called the Kukur Tihar or Puja, the second day of this Tihar is meant to worship dogs.
The people of Nepal offer the dogs, mostly strays, delicious food to eat and garlands to wear. They even put a tika on the furry animals. A tika is a mark worn on the forehead and is offered to the ones we respect. This is an acknowledgment of the long-standing human-dog bond and the Nepalese wish to continue it with this celebration. The garlands also serve as a symbol of respect.
And it’s not just the dogs — crows and cows are also celebrated during these 5 days. Both stray and pet dogs are honored and celebrated on Kukur Tihar. They are offered food items like milk, eggs and meat, apart from dog food.
While their neighbor China is known for their Yulin Meat festival where thousands of dogs are butchered for food, Nepal truly stands apart. Kukur Tihar is Nepal’s way of showing the world how we ought to treat our fellow beings. Dogs are not just cherished here, they are given the status of gods. And they deserve every bit of this respect.