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A Day Especially For Dogs

The annual Tihar festival in Nepal has a day devoted solely to the celebration of man’s best friend, dogs.

Tihar is Nepal’s version of Diwali. The five-day festival occurs in either October or November each year. This Year it is starting on friday.

During the five-day festival, Nepalis pay respect to crows — to avert grief and death in their homes — and cows, which in additional to being the national animal in Nepal, is seen as a sign of prosperity and wealth. The second day is devoted to dogs.

The second day, Kukur Tihar (Khichā Pujā) is set aside for dogs, who are believed to be messengers of the Lord Yamaraj, the god of death. Yamaraj is said to have two dogs – Shyam and Sadal – who guard the entrance to hell. There is a very special relationship between people and dogs, as they were one of the first domesticated animals, so they are decorated with garlands and tika (marks on the forehead), which makes each of them sacred and empowers them to bless all those they encounter on this day.  They are treated to heaps of scrumptious food.  Pets and street dogs alike are blessed and pampered throughout the day.

Dogs are believed to be messengers of the god of death, Lord Yamaraj.

The dogs are give garlands, treats, and marked with a tilak.

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