A Dog’s Story

A Dog’s Story Dogs are feted, hon­oured and wor­shipped at Nepal’s re­li­gious fes­ti­vals.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Sheema Zain Diyas Rigveda,

Adog’s life may not be so bad if the an­i­mal hap­pens to be in Nepal, where the ca­nine is treated with ven­er­a­tion. For 2500 years, dogs have been revered as pro­tec­tors and a day in au­tumn is ded­i­cated to man’s best friend when they are hon­oured, cel­e­brated and even wor­shipped.

Dogs have a ma­jor re­li­gious sig­nif­i­cance in Nepal. Di­wali or Ti­har, as it is called in Nepal, is a five-day Hindu fes­ti­val, gen­er­ally known as the fes­ti­val of lights. are lit both in­side and out­side houses. The fes­ti­val cel­e­brates the tri­umph of light over dark­ness, of knowl­edge over ig­no­rance, and the dis­so­lu­tion of bar­ri­ers. Ti­har is also about break­ing the bound­aries that man has cre­ated, of the “good,” the “bad” and the “ugly,” which means even seem­ingly in­signif­i­cant crea­tures

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are also cher­ished. It rep­re­sents the divine at­tach­ment be­tween hu­mans and other an­i­mals. It is a pe­riod of gift­giv­ing, sto­ry­telling and recog­ni­tion of the re­la­tion­ships hu­mans have with all things. Each day has its own fo­cus, and spe­cific ob­ser­vances.

The fes­ti­val is con­sid­ered to be of great im­por­tance as it shows rev­er­ence to not just the hu­mans and the gods, but also to an­i­mals like crows, cows and dogs which main­tain an in­tense re­la­tion­ship with hu­mans. By de­vot­ing days dur­ing the fes­ti­val of lights to an­i­mals, wor­ship­pers ac­knowl­edge the deep con­nec­tion be­tween all liv­ing things, with each day de­voted to honor­ing a dif­fer­ent con­cept or en­tity.

Dur­ing the fes­ti­val, peo­ple make pat­terns on the floor of liv­ing rooms or court­yards us­ing ma­te­ri­als such as col­ored rice, dry flour, col­ored sand or flower pe­tals. This art is known as

Ran­goli which is meant to be a sa­cred wel­com­ing. Nepalese Hin­duism is unique in ded­i­cat­ing the sec­ond day of Ti­har to the wor­ship of dogs. The sec­ond day is called Kukur Ti­har or wor­ship of the dogs. The role of dogs in hu­man life and through­out history is cel­e­brated on this day.The Kukur Ti­har hon­ors dogs as guardians, com­pan­ions and friends.

The dog ap­pears in the ear­li­est of Hindu texts as a com­pan­ion, pro­tec­tor and helper of the gods. In the one of Hin­duism’s most an­cient texts, Sa­mara — the mother of dogs — as­sists In­dra, the ruler of heaven, in re­triev­ing stolen cat­tle. Sa­mara or the ‘dog of the gods’ is said to rep­re­sent the mother of all wild an­i­mals. She

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