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Why Nepal is a dog-loving nation…

‘Tihar’ is a festival running for five days in Nepal. The ‘New Moon’ day falls right in the middle and homes are decorated with lights.

They are one of the only countries in the world with a festival dedicated to celebrating dogs. This dog-loving nation honour canines in a dazzling Hindu gathering which is of great importance to their community.

The first day is called ‘Kaag Tihar’ (Crow festival) when crows are worshipped and given food. As it is believed crows sometimes bring sad messages, the food offering is to encourage luck.

The second day is ‘Kukur Tihar’ (Dog festival or Day of Dogs).  Now it is the Doggo’s turn to take centre stage. They are also worshipped and delicious food is served to them. These important animals in Hindu mythology are seen wearing beautiful garlands made of flowers. A Tika mark is applied to their forehead. Hindus believe worshipping the dog and keeping them in good humour will appease Yamaraj.  Treats and decorations are not just for family pets but stray dogs too.

Day three is Gai Tihar & Laxmi Puja.  The morning of this day is time to give thanks to Cows.  After all, these beautiful lifesaving animals are kept for providing milk to drink and manure to grow crops.  They are a symbol of prosperity and wealth.  The cows also wear garlands and receive a gift of only the best grass.  Then in the evening it is Laxmi (the Goddess of wealth) who is celebrated and thanked for good things bestowed on families. Lights and oil lamps adorn windows and doorways.  There is much music played, singing and dancing as Laxmi is worshipped.

The fourth day, Goru Tihar is for honouring the oxen and the evening time is for worship of the Self. The Oxen are wonderful and robust animals.  For the Self, enlightenment, cleansing and empowerment are sought. Fireworks are one way to celebrate this night and sparklers abound.

Day five is Bhai Tika and the final day of the festival. Worshipping brother and displaying seven colours on the forehead mark this day.  The seven rich colours represent wishes and the ‘Tika’ is applied to give thanks and ensure a long life. A flower garland is made for the brothers and it symbolizes a sister’s prayer for him as she thanks him for the protection he provides. In return, brothers give gifts or money.

As a famous professor once said “We honour the dog… they are our best friend, and they watch our house.”

Leah & Angela OMeara

Hound Dog Day Care (Specialists in Dog Minding & Dog Boarding, Pet Sitting Brisbane & Doggy Day Care Brisbane