What is Tihar?
Tihar is the second biggest Nepali festival after Dashain, and is usually allocated a three-day-long national holiday. Tihar is known as the festival of light where lamps are lit at night. The festival of lights celebrates the triumph of light over darkness, of knowledge over ignorance, and the dissolution of barriers that separate humans from authentic experience of the world. Tihar usually takes place in Nepali Kartik month (Octorber to November in Solar Calendar) and continues for five days. During this festival, people will honour crows, dogs, cows as well as Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and luck.
What is kukur Tihar??
Dogs are very important to Nepal’s Hindu practitioners as this day is celebrated for the role of dogs in human life and throughout history. In this day dogs are thanked and celebrated for their loyalty, service and companionship. According to Hindu tradition dogs are the guardian and messenger of yama known as the lord and judge of death. In Hinduism dogs plays an important role as the gatekeeper of death which is said to guard the gates of heaven after life and also lead the deceased across the river of death in the underworld. Kukur Tihar is celebrated during the appearance of the new moon in the month of Kartik, the seventh month of Vikram Samvat. According to Nepalese Hinduism the second day of Tihar is celebrated as kukur Tihar where dogs are worshipped.
How it’s celebrated?
In this day a garland of flowers is draped around the neck of every dog including the street dogs and put tika ( a red mark, a paste made from abir — a red dye powder — along with rice and yogurt) on their forehead and also offer them with delicious treats.
Animal welfare has still a long way to go in a country like Nepal, where we are still struggling to provide quality life to people. Many may feel that animal welfare is a luxury of the developed countries where the need of the people is easily met but in reality Nepalese Hinduism have so much of respect and importance for animals since it’s beginning. In the western countries dogs are known as “man’s best friend” where in Nepalese Hinduism dogs are known as guardian, companion, friend and also worshipped as the form of god. While many are unaware about this fact about the value and importance of animals in Nepalese Hinduism, throughout the years dogs are treated with indifferences or disdain by the majority of Nepalese. We are using animals for our own benefit, it is unethical not to think about them and put aside these issues on the ground of reasons such as poverty and limited resources among others. These stray animals face road accidents, gruesome behavior from humans and adverse climatic conditions. They thrive on kitchen waste and garbage and at times tend to eat plastics, which can be deadly. Many people lack empathy for animals and fail to see them as living beings. But for once in a year everything changes at the time of Tihar as it ends the barrier and also recognizes the importance of all living creatures and ties human being with gods and animals together.
While many fails to see animals as a living being, it’s wonderful how Nepalese Hinduism has given a value to animals live which have not only given them a respect but also have offer them a position to get worshipped. According to Hinduism dogs are said to guard the gates of heaven after life and also lead the deceased across the river of death in the underworld, so putting them in misery for a year and worshiping them one day might not lead our soul to Moksha after life. Let us share our love to every living being that breathes not only one day but everyday.