By Kat Du Bois
There is a five-day festival in Nepal called Tihar that celebrates dogs and many other animals. They not only celebrate the humans and the gods, but they also celebrate animals like crows, cows, and dogs who maintain a well-balanced relationship with humans.
This festival is Nepal’s version of Diwili. Spiceindiagrocery.com says that Diwili is a Hindu festival of lights, held in the period of October to November. It is particularly associated with Lakshmi, the goddess of prosperity, and marks the beginning of the fiscal year in India.
During the first day of this five-day festival, the people of Nepal pay respect to crows. They put dishes and sweets on the roofs of their houses. The “caw” noise the crows make symbolizes sadness and grief in Hinduism, so people offer them food to ward off sadness, grief, and death in their homes.
The second day of the festival is all for dogs. Dogs are believed to be messengers of the Lord Yamaraj who is the god of Death. People offer garlands, delicious foods, and tika, a paint that is traditionally worn on the forehead and other parts of the body, to acknowledge the great bond between man and dog.
The third day of Tihar is to celebrate cows. The cow represents prosperity and wealth in Hinduism. So, on this day, the people of Nepal garland the cows and feed them the best grass. They clean their houses and decorate the doorways and windows with garland made of Sayapatri and Makhamali flowers. To end the day, there are fireworks and girls dance throughout the neighborhood along all of the houses.
On the fourth day, they worship oxen. They decorate the oxen with garlands and tika. This day is also observed as the new beginning of the Nepal Sambat calendar year.
The fifth and final day of Tihar is called Bhai Tika. Sisters put tika on their brother’s foreheads to ensure they have a long life ands to thank them for the protection they provide for their sisters and family. They also Garland them and feed them sweet dishes.