Kukur Tihar, the Celebration of the Dog

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Every year around this time, Nepal, a country in South Asia honors their four-legged friends with a jubilant celebration all done in their honor. It is a time where dog owners thank their pets for being such good friends and sharing their life with them.

During the festival dogs are given many treats, flower garlands, and a Tika. Culturally speaking, the Nepalese people are primarily Hindu and Muslim. The Hindu religion here is heavily influenced by Buddhism and it is here where the Tika comes from. Known as a “third eye” dogs are given this representation by their owners by marking their foreheads with a vermilion paste. The entire celebration is focused around this “third eye” as once the Tika is placed on their foreheads it is believed, upon its opening, the dog experiences a spiritual awakening of knowledge and wisdom. The flowers are said to represent the “passage of time and the beauty of everlasting love.”

In contrast, since 2009 China has their own dog festival, however dogs here are celebrated as food. The Yulin Festival highlights dogs as meat and kills around 10,000 dogs during the event. Cultural relativism can be a hard nut to crack at times.

“While other countries may celebrate dogs in other ways, thanking them as food, or status symbols, it is very nice to see that dogs in Nepal are being appreciated for just being friends. As humanity learns more and more of the value of its relationship to dogs, and the evolution of dog cognition and consciousness” maybe those in countries like China will begin to see dogs more as pets and less like meals.

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