Kukur Tihar: the festival that honours dogs

Kukur Tihar, a celebration in Nepal that pays tribute to dogs and their special relationship with humans. Between mysticism and folklore, the dog becomes protagonist in a universe customised for him where stories of abuse or abandonment have no place.

 

One day dedicated to the dog

Every year in Nepal, between October and November, Tihar, a Hindu festival lasting five days is celebrated. On each day, a predominant theme consistent with the ultimate aim of the festival prevails: celebrating the deities and the gift of life itself. The second day is dedicated to dogs, which according to Hindu religion are the messengers of Yama, the god of death. Thanks to this important role, our four-legged friends receive various kinds of tributes. It begins with people adorning dogs (pets and stray dogs) with colourful garlands of flowers hung around their necks. It continues with the pundra or tika, a distinguishing mark that is placed on their forehead indicating their sacred role in the religious tradition; the bright dye is obtained by mixing a red powder known as abir with yogurt and rice. Of course, and to the delight of those involved, the homage to the dogs culminates with a feast of all sorts of goodies: meat, eggs, peanuts and gourmet preparations are just some of the high quality foods available to them.

 

‘Honour’ dogs every day

The Kukur Tihar festival is often seen as the complete opposite to the Yulin Meat Festival in China, where, unfortunately, the dogs are killed to be eaten. Mysticism and traditions aside, the celebrations in Nepal can still be a starting point for anyone who has chosen to share their lives with a dog.

In addition to this sacred role, held dear to the Nepalese people, the quadruped is faithful to man the world over and a precious collaborator in activities such as protection and rescue every day, so deserves a ‘thank you’ from us with respect, care and loyalty.