Tihar: the festival dedicated to dogs and other animals
This month, the annual Tihar Festival took place in Nepal. During the associated festivities, Hindus thank and honour animals throughout the country. The second day is dedicated entirely to dogs.
Tihar is a five-day long Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal each year in late October/early November. Tihar means ‘Festival of lights’. The festival symbolizes ‘the victory of light over darkness, good over evil and knowledge over ignorance’. It is also about honouring people, gods and animals.
During the Tihar Festival, each day has its own focus. In the eyes of the Nepalese, crows, cows and dogs are animals that people can have intense relationships with. These animals each have a day entirely dedicated to them on which they are pampered and honoured.
On the first day, Kag Tihar, crows are honoured. In Hinduism, crows are seen as messengers of Yama, god of death. The call of a crow symbolizes sorrow. To keep death and sorrow from their homes, the Nepalese bring the crows offerings and food.
The second day of the festival, Kukur Tihar, is dedicated entirely to honouring dogs. Throughout the day, dogs, including strays, are rewarded for their loyalty and friendship. The animals are cared for, and offered garlands and all sorts of treats. Later during the festival, special attention is given to cows and bulls. In Hinduism, the cow represents prosperity and wealth.
Overall, a spiritual festival with many festivities and symbolism, especially notable for its respect for animals.