KUKUR TIHAR FESTIVAL OF DOGS
NOVEMBER 10, 2015
The five-day autumn Festival of Lights in Nepal, this year from Nov. 9-13, celebrates the varying denominations of Hinduism. In Nepalese the word Diwali is called Tihar. Neither probably mean much to you, so let me elaborate. Diwali is a time to give gifts, tell stories, and appreciate the human relationship with all things. Lamps are lit at night to signify the triumph of the light over the darkness. Light represents our ability to choose knowledge over the ignorance that separates us from having truly authentic relationships.
Kukur Tihar is the second day of the celebration dedicated to the worship of dogs. On that day all dogs, including strays are honored with wreaths of flowers draped around their necks, and the tika ( a red mark on the forehead) which marks the dog as a creature worthy of devotion and one that is on the righteous path. The tika blesses all that come in contact with the dog. While I’m sure that is all well and good, I’m certain the dogs are far more keen on the gustatory portion of the celebration. Food is put out for every dog and depending upon what is eaten (which I suspect is near everything), a prediction of good fortune is made for the community.
Dogs in the Hindu tradition
“Dogs are especially important to Nepal’s Hindu practitioners. During day two of Tihar, Kukur Tihar, the role of dogs in human life and throughout history is celebrated. In the Rigveda, one of Hinduism’s most ancient texts, Samara — the mother of dogs — assists Indra, the ruler of heaven, in retrieving stolen cattle. Hindu tradition holds that a dog is the guardian and messenger of Yama, the lord and judge of the dead. A dog is also said to guard the gates of the afterlife.
At the close of the Mahabharata, the king of righteousness, Yudhishthira, refuses to enter heaven without his devoted dog. The dog is revealed to represent the concept of dharma, the path of righteousness. During Tihar, each day is devoted to a honoring a different concept or entity: crows, dogs, cows, oxen, and fraternal relationships, respectively. On the second day, Kukur Tihar, all dogs are recognized, honored, and worshiped.” source