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'Kukur Tihar': The Hindu festival dedicated to worshipping dogs

Nepalese police officers and a child worship a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations.
Nepalese police officers and a child worship a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations.   -   Copyright  Niranjan Shrestha/AP
By Euronews

On Wednesday, the second day of the five-day Tihar festival, Hindus gathered across Nepal to worship their dogs.

Adorned with colourful garlands and tilaka, all dogs - including strays - are gently bathed by families and served selections of milk, meat and more.

It is considered a sin to be disrespectful to a dog on this day.

Niranjan Shrestha/AP
A man worships a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations at a kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal.Niranjan Shrestha/AP

Why are dogs celebrated?

For devout Hindus, the celebration (named Kukur Tihar) is tied to a belief that dogs are the messengers of Yamaraj, the god of death, and that by worshipping the animals and ensuring their happiness, Yamaraj can be appeased.

It also helps them to see death in a more positive light, as people thank dogs for their loyalty and companionship.

In pictures

Niranjan Shrestha/AP
A police dog stands decorated with a garland of flowers during Tihar festival celebrations at a police kennel division in Kathmandu, Nepal.Niranjan Shrestha/AP
Niranjan Shrestha/AP
A Nepalese woman puts marigold petals on a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations.Niranjan Shrestha/AP
Niranjan Shrestha/AP
A Nepalese policeman gives a medal to the best stunt performing police dog during Kukkur Tihar dog festival.Niranjan Shrestha/AP
Niranjan Shrestha/AP
Nepalese policemen put marigold flower garland on a police dog during Tihar festival celebrations.Niranjan Shrestha/AP

What is the Tihar Festival?

Kukur Tihar falls on the second day of the Tihar festival, which is a five-day-long Hindu festival of lights, celebrated in Nepal and by the Nepali diaspora.

Traditionally, each of the five days of Tihar are dedicated to the worship of different animals - all associated with the Hindu god of death.

On day one, crows and ravens are fed atop Hindu rooftops, while on day three, cows are worshipped as symbols of prosperity.

Day four favours oxen and day five is dedicated to people, with sisters traditionally putting tilaka on their brothers' foreheads in the belief that it will secure a long and happy life.