It’s a country of adventure, amazing food, welcoming locals and a novel, yet simple lifestyle. Located between Tibet and India, Nepal isn’t just a unique country. It’s strange in many different ways. With the length of the months ranging from 29 to 32 days, the Nepalese are already in the year 2077- almost a half a century ahead of the rest of the world.
If you haven’t heard of this country before, then you’re missing out big. Welcome to Nepal where dogs are considered not only as human companions but sacred creatures and messengers of Yamaraj-the God of Death. That said, below are all you need to know about the celebration that honors dogs within and without Nepal.
The celebration is part of the Deepawali Festive
Deepawali Festive, also known as Diwali is a Hindu “festival of lights” that’s most popular in Hinduism. It’s celebrated for five days with each day given a divine attachment which sums up to symbolize the spiritual victory of light over darkness, knowledge over ignorance and good over evil.
While the main festive day (third day of Deepawali), called the Laxmi Puja is given more attention; many still celebrate the second day, Kukur Tihar where people offer garlands and delicious food to their dogs.
Dogs hold a special place in the Hindu religion and Nepalese celebrate the day like no other. Besides the festive treats, these canines are blessed with Tika, a red mark smeared on their foreheads. The mythical and spiritual concept of doing so is to keep the dogs in good humor. This appeases Yamaraj/ Yama, the God of Death and evil will stay away from their families.
Dogs are believed to watch over the gates of Hell
Everyone fears death, at least in my opinion-and Hindus are probably skeptical about the subject too. Nepal’s population is 80% Hindu and doesn’t take death for granted. They believe in religious mythology that doesn’t allow them to treat dogs in any inappropriate way. According to their religious teaching, there lives a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva (the destroyer), who had a dog as a vehicle.
Yama, the God of death is also believed to own two fierce guard dogs each with four eyes. These dogs are said to stand guard watching over the gates of hell. By extrapolation, it’s pretty common sense to celebrate your dog if you call Nepal your home country.
Nepal is trying to pass a message of hope to the world
Nepalese are down-to-earth people who believe in the balance of grace and faith. To them, cruelty to animals is a taboo that could lead to a staircase of sins stretching through generations. By honoring this day and showing the world what it takes to celebrate their four-legged friends, a great impact can be felt far and beyond the international borders.
In 2015, during the Diwali festivals, pictures of cute dogs wearing floral garlands storm the internet and netizens didn’t take this, just for a mere religious celebration. It became a symbol of hope for the mistreated dogs across the world, a pillar of trust between dog lovers and their pets and a wake-up call to some nations that had been accused of killing dogs for meat.
It doesn’t take much of an effort to admire the adorable cute dogs dressed for the occasion and neither, to get emotional for the unlucky canines being led to the slaughterhouses. Pictures and videos of mistreated dogs were exchanging relevance with those being pampered and for that very week, Nepal was the center of attention.
In a world where one chooses to keep a dog either as a pet or to meet the irreducible minimums of a well-preserved culture; these canines are lucky to be part of the bigger picture- Diwali, one of the most celebrated festivals across the globe.