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The festival of worshipping dogs and crows – All you need to know about Kukur Tihar festival celebrated by Gorkhas and Nepali Hindus

Kukur Tihar falls on the second day of the five-day Tihar festival in Nepal when dogs are worshipped by Hindus

On the second day of the five-day Hindu festival Tihar, Nepali Hindus and Gorkhas worship dogs to celebrate the animal’s connection to the fearless Bhagwan Bhairav. On this day, worshipers decorate dogs with garlands and Tilak. They are fed with their favourite food including meat, milk, eggs etc. On this day, it is forbidden to indulge in any disrespectful act against the dogs. The festival is widely popular amongst Gorkhas. Canine officers and stray dogs are honoured on this day.

The mythological connection

There are two mythological connections associated with the festival. It is believed that the dog is the ride of Bhagwan Bhairav, and it is worshipped to please God. According to legends, Bhagwan Yama, the God of Death, has two dogs named Shyama and Sharvara who guard the doors of hell. By worshipping the dogs during Kukur Tihar, the worshipers believe they will save them from the tortures of hell. It also helps in seeing death in a positive manner.

One story from Mahabharata also mentions the importance of the bond between dogs and humans. According to the story, a dog had accompanied the Pandavas on the journey to Heaven. All Pandavas, including Draupadi, could not complete the journey and only Yudhishthira and the dog reached the doors of Heaven. When Indra Dev came to receive him, Yudhishthira asked to let the dog accompany him to Heaven. Indra Dev refused, stating everyone cannot attain Heaven.

Yudhishthira refused to go to Heaven, saying the dog had been with him thick and thin. He cannot abandon the dog at the end of his life. Pleased by the selflessness and dedication to the sense of righteousness under any circumstance, the dog was allowed to enter Heaven. The story stated that the dog was actually the God of Dharma himself who showed his true form after Yudhishthira stood strong on his vow to take the dog with him to Heaven. It is suggested it was Bhagwan Yama in the form of a dog accompanying Yudhishthira to Heaven.

Source: Storypick

Kaag Tihar – The day when crows are worshipped

During the festival, crows and ravens are also worshipped as they are considered to be messengers of Bhagwan Yama. They are worshipped on the first day of the Tihar festival, also known as Kaag Tihar. Food including meat and grains are offered to crows during the festival.

Kaag Tihar. Source: lordshivasdevotee.com

Crows hold an important role in Hinduism. They are also considered to be the messengers of Pitra or the ancestors. They are worshipped and offered food during Shrada, the 16-day long Hindu festival where Hindus across the world pay homage to their ancestors.

Dogs might have been first domesticated in Nepal

The bond between dogs and people of Nepal goes back to the point where dogs were first domesticated by humans. According to ABC Science, a genetic study suggested that the dogs might have been domesticated for the first time in Central Asia, precisely in modern-day Nepal and Mongolia.

Kukur Tihar celebrated in Nepal. Source: news18

An international team led by Adam Boyko at Cornell University studied over 185,800 genetic markers in around 4,600 purebred dogs belonging to 165 breeds along with over 540 village dogs. The study was conducted across 38 countries. The scientists deemed it as the “largest-ever survey of worldwide canine genetic diversity.” The scientists had said, “We find strong evidence that dogs were domesticated in Central Asia, perhaps near present-day Nepal and Mongolia.”

Dogs played a vital role during the Nepal earthquake rescue operations

Dogs were the unsung heroes of the rescue operations of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal in 2015. During the rescue operations, special canine units were deployed that helped in spotting surviving victims under the rubble.

 

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