In Nepal, Diwali is a time to worship the dogs, in the Festival of lights!
Whether or not you love dogs, this little Nepalese tradition will restore some of your faith in humanity. Each year, on the second day of the five-day Diwali celebrations in Nepal, the country celebrates Kukur Tihar or “day of the dogs” by worshipping man’s four-legged friend. Pooches of all kinds—strays and pets—are showered with flowers, adorned with garlands and tilak or gulal. After a ceremonial puja, they are treated to milk, eggs, meat, dog food or anything they like. Last year, Kukur Tihar was celebrated on Sunday, 27 October.
Hindus believe that dog is the messenger of Yamaraj - the God of death - and by keeping the dogs in good humour they will be able to appease Yamaraj himself.
But dogs are not the only animals celebrated in Nepal. On the first day of Tihar, a five-day festival, the crow is worshipped. On the third day, it is cows in the morning and Laxmi, the goddess of wealth in the evening. On the fourth day, different people worship different beings including oxen, mountains or even themselves!
It is not just beloved pets who are involved in the celebrations. Stray dogs are honored on the day too.
Tihar is also called Deepavali or the festival of lights.
Throughout this festival, people in Nepal clean their houses and courtyards; light up lamps and pray to Laxmi - the Goddess of Wealth - urging her to visit their houses and bless them.
And the festival is spreading. In 2016, Mexico adopted the Kukur Tihar, where locals walked their pets to Revolution Square in Mexico City and decked them with garlands and tika, just like they do it in Nepal, and India. It’s an idea worth adopting.