Hindu festival includes a “day of the dog”

Tihar, or the festival of light, is a week-long Hindu celebration that dedicates an entire day to dogs!

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During Kukar Tia – also known as the day of the dogs – pet dogs and strays are decorated with flower garlands, offered food,  and blessed with the tika, a red mark on the forehead that signifies honour and respect.


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Happy Kukur Tihar. It’s one of the biggest festival in Nepal and 🐶 is worshipped on the second day. #tiharfestival

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A sacred animal

Dogs play a big part in Hindu mythology. Yama, the god of death, is said to own two fierce guards dogs called Sadal and Shyam. Each dog is believed to have fours eyes which they use to watch over Naraka, the Hindi concept of hell. Braiarvai,  or the one who is beyond fear, is a Hindu deity who travelled on the back of a dog.

Hindus believe that honouring the dogs for a day will appease these powerful gods. It’s also an opportunity to celebrate the lasting bond  between humans and their canine friends.

The festival runs for five days and celebrates other animals including crows, ravens and the cow, an extremely sacred animal in Hindu societies. Tihar culminates with Bhai Tika, a day of blessings and feasts. During the festival, houses are decorated with lanterns, a ritual which signifies the spiritual victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance.


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Other national dog days

But Tihar isn’t the only festival that honours dogs. In Bolivia, the Fiesta de San Roque lasts for 8 days and dogs are decorated with colourful ribbons to honour the memory of Saint Roche, the patron saint of dogs. Saint Francis of Assisi was known for his love of animals and on the  4th of October local parishes are known to bless a dog in his memory.

The UK also celebrates a national dog day. It was set up pet and family expert Colleen Paige. It falls on August 26th, the date Colleen’s family adopted their first rescue dog.

Read also: ‘Dog of the Year’ award goes to rattlesnake-fighting canine bodyguard

Ashley is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. When he's not writing, he enjoys reading, martial arts and meditation. Unfortunately he doesn't have the space or the time to own a dog, so he volunteers as as dog buddy, which basically means he'a a dog babysitter. He walks them, feeds them, and generally just chill out with them. It's awesome.