KUKUR TIHAR – Dog Worshiping Festival in Nepal
This is the time of year where people around the world celebrate Diwali. As known Diwali is a very colorful festival, but this small Nepalese tradition adds color and gives hope about humanity. Every year on the 2nd day of Diwali celebrations in Nepal, the country celebrates Kukur Tihar, the festival of dogs by worshiping man’s four legged friend.
Doggos of all kinds from pets to strays are showered in flowers, adorned with garlands and tilak or gulal. After a ceremonial puja, the pooches are treated with milk, eggs, meat, dog food, or anything they love. Despite the pandemic, the Nepalese will be celebrating their dogs this year too. On the 14th of November 2020.
History of Kukur Tihar
Nepal’s dog-worshipping tradition comes from Hindu mythology. In the Mahabharat, when the Pandavas set out on their final voyage to Swarga, a dog follows them on their journey. Along the way, Yudhistra loses his brothers and wife, but the loyal dog follows him till the gate. The texts say that Yudhishtira refused to enter heaven without the dog, such as the bond they fostered.
Elsewhere, in the Rigveda, Samsara, the mother of dogs, assists Indra in recovering his stolen cattle. Bhairava, an avatar of Lord Shiva, uses a dog as his steed. Yamraj, the God of Death, also has two watchdogs who guard the gates of hell.
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But dogs aren’t the only ones worshipped during this festival. On the first day of the festival, people worship crows (The ‘why?’ in that is a big mystery!), on the 3rd day they celebrate crows in the morning and Laxmi, the goddess of wealth in the evening. On the 4th-day people worship whatever they like, varying from oxen to cows to cow dung to ….. sometimes themselves! WEIRD!
All in all weird or not, it’s nice to hear that people still have some humanity left to at least appreciate their dogs on one day of the year! Don’t get me wrong, there are people who absolutely treat pooches better than they treat other humans. But in a world where strays are shot dead or poisoned to death, this act is something that cancels out the negativity at least for a brief moment!