Dogs Are Being Worshipped in Nepal Today for Tihar

Laxmi Puja, a day dedicated to worshipping the Hindu goddess Laxmi, is being celebrated nationwide in Nepal.

Normally occurring on the third day of the Tihar festival, this year it aligns with the second day of Tihar, coinciding with Narak Chaturdashi and Kukur Tihar, a festival honoring dogs.

On the occasion of Kukur Tihar today, dogs are being worshipped in Nepal – with Teeka and flower garlands.

Owners worship Juju with garlands | Via: Ankita Koirala on Facebook
Owners worship Juju with garlands | Via: Ankita Koirala on Facebook

The five-day Tihar, also known as Yamapanchak, began on Saturday, with Kaag Tihar – worshipping crows.

Laxmi Puja is being observed tonight, dedicated to worshipping the goddess of wealth and prosperity, Laxmi. People clean and illuminate their homes, lighting butter lamps to invite the goddess, as cleanliness is believed to be favored by Laxmi.

The night is known as Sukha Ratri, symbolizing the night of happiness, as it is believed that Goddess Laxmi resides in homes on this special night.

Devotees welcome the goddess Laxmi into their homes during Laxmi Puja by creating footprint signs from their courtyard to the main altar.

In the evening, teenage girls form troupes and perform ‘bhailo’ songs, dancing joyfully. These troupes visit neighboring houses, where owners, especially mothers, offer gifts like paddy, rice grain, flower garlands, money, and ‘sel roti,’ a special treat. Donations to the bhailo troupes are believed to bring blessings from the goddess. Homes are illuminated with electric lights and butter lamps, and some people also follow the tradition of worshipping cows on Laxmi Puja morning.

Tihar in Nepal, Diwali in India

Diwali, the festival of lights, is celebrated with immense fervor and enthusiasm across India. The festivities span five days, beginning with Dhanteras, where people clean and decorate their homes, and traditionally buy gold or silver.

Naraka Chaturdashi follows, marked by oil baths, the lighting of lamps, and the bursting of firecrackers symbolizing the triumph of good over evil. On the main day of Diwali, homes are adorned with diyas (oil lamps), candles, and rangoli, and families come together to exchange gifts and enjoy festive meals.

The air is filled with the joyous sounds of fireworks, emphasizing the victory of light over darkness. Govardhan Puja and Bhai Dooj complete the celebration, involving the worship of Lord Krishna and the special bond between brothers and sisters. Temples are thronged by devotees seeking blessings, and acts of charity and sharing are emphasized.

Diwali transcends religious boundaries, uniting people of diverse communities in the celebration of joy, prosperity, and the triumph of light.

Rangoli for Laxmi Pooja | Nishant Aneja via Pexels

Both of these festivals are celebrated in the Indian subcontinent, but they are associated with different cultural and religious traditions.

Religious Significance:

Diwali: Primarily a Hindu festival, Diwali signifies the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil. It is associated with various mythological stories, including the return of Lord Rama to Ayodhya after defeating the demon king Ravana.
Tihar: Tihar is a Hindu festival celebrated in Nepal, particularly by the Nepali Hindu community. It is similar to Diwali in some aspects but has its own set of traditions. Tihar is dedicated to worshipping different animals and birds, including crows, dogs, cows, and oxen, in addition to honoring the goddess Laxmi.

Duration and Customs:

Diwali: Celebrated over five days, Diwali involves various rituals such as cleaning and decorating homes, lighting lamps, bursting fireworks, exchanging gifts, and sharing festive meals.
Tihar: Tihar, also known as the festival of lights, spans five days and includes worshiping different animals on each day. Dogs, cows, oxen, crows, and the goddess Laxmi are honored during Tihar. There are also cultural performances, such as the bhailo songs sung by groups of girls.

Geographic Focus:

Diwali: Celebrated widely across India and by Indian communities worldwide, Diwali is a major festival in Hindu culture.
Tihar: Primarily celebrated in Nepal, Tihar is of special significance in the Nepali Hindu community. The festival is observed with various customs and rituals distinct from Diwali.

Animal Worship:

Diwali: Diwali does not involve specific days dedicated to the worship of animals. The focus is primarily on the celebration of light, the victory of good over evil, and various mythological narratives.
Tihar: Tihar includes days dedicated to honoring animals like dogs, cows, and oxen. Each day has specific rituals and customs associated with the chosen animal, symbolizing their importance in Hindu culture.

While Diwali and Tihar share similarities as festivals of lights, they differ in their religious stories, customs, and the specific traditions associated with each celebration. Diwali is more widely recognized globally, while Tihar holds particular cultural importance in Nepal.

SOURCE: Dogs Are Being Worshipped in Nepal Today for Tihar