Dog lovers of Nepal honoured dogs during the Hindu Festival Kukur Tihar on Monday, putting flowers around their necks and pampering them with treats.
Kukar Tihar is the second day of the five-day Hindu festival Tihar which celebrates the end of the harvest season and gives thanks to the Hindu god of death, Yama, for his protection.
On this day, all dogs -pets and strays- are offered sweets and worshipped by placing a tika on their head and flowers around their necks. This day marks the special relationship between humans and dogs. It is viewed as a sin if someone acts cruelly to a dog on this day.
The festival is considered unique as it shows respect for the four animals associated with Yama.
The first day of Tihar is called Kaag Tihar. Ravens and crows, believed to be the messengers of Yama, are worshipped with offerings of seeds and grains. On the third day, Gi Tihar, cows are honoured, and on the fourth day, Goru Puja, the ox is honoured. The fifth day is called Bhai Tika, and human brothers and sisters celebrate their special bond.
“We have protected and kept these animals. Everyone loves them here. People have a habit of abandoning their dogs on the road – we brought those dogs here and protected them,” Sneha Shrestha, the owner of a dog shelter in Lalitpur, told news agency Reuters.
“There are around 170 dogs in our shelter, including dogs that have been abandoned. Today they are worshipped, but the next day they are being left,” Shrestha said while volunteers, residents and tourists celebrated Kukur Tihar at her shelter.
In Nepal, dog welfare is acquiring more widespread attention. According to media reports, there are around 20,000 stray dogs in the Kathmandu Valley alone.
“I want to spread the message that humans should show compassion and love to dogs and feed them as much as we can,” the mayor of Lalitpur, Chiri Babu Maharjan, said after honouring the crippled dogs of the Sneha Care animal shelter.
“It is fun when we make garlands, wear them, and feed the dogs during Kukur Tihar. Every year, we feed the dogs on the streets. It is fun,” resident Tirtha Nahadur Khatri said.