China take note: the Nepalese show the world the real meaning of a dog festival...
WARNING: LOADS OF CUTE PICTURES!
After the horrors of the barbaric, annual Yulin dog massacre last week, it seems appropriate to highlight an Asian canine festival of a very different kind. The Hindu Kukur Tihar Festival takes place on the second day of Tihar, the Nepalese version of Diwali, and is a joyous event for both humans and dogs.
Tihar is a five day Hindu festival unique to Nepal that takes place in the autumn. It is a celebration of the triumph of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and an opportunity to show reverence to the Hindu Gods, humans and all animals. Crows, dogs and cows receive special attention due to their close relationship with humans and each one has their own day dedicated to their celebration. Dogs hold a special place in the Hindu religion: in the Rigveda one of the most ancient Hindu texts, the mother of all dogs, Samara, assists Indra, the ruler of heaven, in retrieving stolen cattle. A dog is also charged with the responsibility of being the guardian and messenger of Yama, who judges the dead.
Kukur Tihar is a day for dogs to be honoured, celebrated and worshipped for the undying love and devotion they show to humans. The dogs are dressed with beautiful, flowered garlands called malla, and are marked on their heads with a tika, which is a coloured stripe.
Dogs are centre stage for the entire day and are completely spoilt with specially prepared dishes of delicious food and tempting treats. There is also singing and dancing in their honour.
Dogs across the world add so much colour and support to our lives that this festival seems a truly fitting way of celebrating their love and companionship. It also provides some much needed relief from the recent stories about the dog meat trade that represent such a cruel betrayal of a dog’s affection and trust. Let us hope that the message of this beautiful tradition spreads across Asia, so that more people come to honour the remarkable and wonderful relationship we have with our canine friends.
(This article has been written by one of the Wild at Heart Foundation volunteers, Jo Chick)