The second day of Hindi festival called Tihar is devoted to dogs. Their loyalty and devotion is celebrated, they are honoured as companions, guardians and friends. A holiday which is full of lights and colours doesn’t forget about stray dogs and it is an exceptional spectacle.
Tihar, also known as Dipawali, the festival of lights is a five-day Hindi festival, the second most important following Dasain festival. Besides other things, the festival also celebrates the relationship between people and animals. Each day of Tihar is devoted to honouring another conception or subject: crows, dogs, cows, oxen and brotherly relationships.
Kukur Tihar, i.e. the celebration of Dog Day, is the second holiday and this year, it is on 6 November – in exactly a week. It honours dogs in all their aspects: as guardians, companions and friends. In Hindi mythology, dogs have a special and very important role. In ancient Hindi text, they are depicted as loyal companions, people’s helpers and as guardians and messengers. According to legends, Shiva used to ride on a dog, and Yama, the god of death, had two guardian dogs, both of which had four eyes. Dogs also guard the entrance to Naraka, the Hindu equivalent of hell. And they also take part in many other stories as important characters.
On this day, all dogs in Nepal and several other Indian countries enjoy special attention. It doesn’t matter if they are stray dogs and they have a master. They are festooned, bedecked with flower garlands called malla. They are the sign of respect and dignity and symbolize the prayers which follow the dog. People thank dogs for their friendship and loyalty. They are also marked with “tika”, a red sign applied to their foreheads as the sign of holiness. It also marks the dog to be a follower of the righteous way and the subject of devotion. Tika fills the dog with the air of holiness and functions as blessings to those who meet it during Kukur Tihar.
The favourite part of the whole celebration for dogs is definitely food which is served in various forms. It can be milk, eggs, meat or quality dog food. On this day, dogs get the best and not even stray dogs starve.
Don’t forget then – the exceptional friendship between people and dogs is celebrated on 6 November. Think of your dog and even if it doesn’t lack anything for the rest of the year, give him one extra caress and thank it for its loyalty, devotion and love.