Saturday, November 10, 2007

Dogs In Nepal Festival of Tihar

Thursday was the second day of the festival of Tihar (Nepal's version of Diwali). The Nepali honour dogs with garlands, food, and special attention on this day.

The second day of Tihar marks a celebration that is called Kukur Pooja or Kukur Tihar. The forehead of dogs are marked with the Hindu powder of blessing known as the tika.

Nepal is primarily a Hindu country and the honour bestowed on dogs is in keeping with the great religious epic, The Mahabharat. Dogs are said to journey with Dharmaraj Yudhisthir to heaven and to act as guards of the underworld.

I also remember seeing dogs honoured in Kathmandu outside of the festival of Tihar. It made me happy and also made me miss the family mutts in South Africa even more.

The sleeping Chihauhau is Cindy. She visited me in my dreams last night to remind me of the pleasures of summer in Kimberley and long walks on the beaches of Saldanha. She also gave me a spiritual map to get home.

Thank God for dogs, for without them we would not even know what it means to be human.



Shus li che dut nah (Spring Thunder) said...

These are such sweet dogs! We should have an honoring day for them.

BTW, did you see the pix of Lakshmei after her arms/legs were removed?? She looks like she's doing well.

Peace, Brother

Shus li

Ridwan said...

Shusli I have not seen that picture but your words comfort.

I hope she recovers and grows beyond the challenges she has faced.

Thank you for telling me she that she looks well.

Be well my sista!

Peace and struggle,

Ridwan said...

Ooops I forgot to send peaceful blessings to Leah (me buffalo) and Wendy (me frog chaser).

Good blessings to you too!



Dione said...

Dog is God spelled backwards.

Eugene said...

I was told a story about the dog, let me paraphrase.

Man learned to eat meat. Man liked to hunt. Man got a little wacky and started killing more than he could eat. In fact, man started killing everything. The animal people got pissed off (wouldn't you?). They had a great meeting and decided to do a surprise attack on man and kill all of them for their avarice. Dog really liked man. He didn't want to see them killed off. So he warned man of the surprise attack. A great battle ensued and there were many casualties on both sides, but man wasn't wiped out as the animals had desired. Dog was found out to be the informant and kicked out of the animal world to become a servant of man.

I was told that this is not only a story of how dog became man's servant, but also why Indians didn't fight wars of genocide. Dog has a resposibility for saving man.

Ridwan said...

Hey brother I remember you telling me this story. I am glad that you have retold it here because it shows that Indigenous people and others have similar myths/thoughts about dogs.

The story you tell is not too much different that the myths that surround Kuku Tihar.

In both stories the role of the dog as guardian and lookout is prominent.

New research indicates that dogs can detect certain cancers in the human body. The role of lookout here has even expanded.

And of course you have seen dogs as guides for the blind and epileptics.

The Qu'ran contains a story of a dog who guarded fleeing revolutionaries. The dogs slept at the entrance of the cave for so long that it became covered with spider webs.

In India I did, however, come across some Hindus who believed that the dog was a devil and not to be trusted.

The name given to feral dogs in India, "pariah", tells something about that attitude.

But this is not mainstream, I think.

And even as I write this I think of that dog at JNU who has yet to return a big part of my being (See my post "My JNU Love").

Hey I will holla later. Just talked to Shushli.

Peace and dogs,

Ridwan said...

Hey Dione that was clever :0)

I read some of the western media reports and felt that they were not getting the celebration.

The Nepali Hindus do not "worship" the dog as reported.

This part of the celebration of Tihar is about honouring the role of the dog (Kuku) in society and religious myth.

Did I even tell you about the dog I saw at a Tibetan monastery in Lumbini (Nepal)?

Mmmmm ... don't think so.

Anyway, I casually walked into a Tibetan monastery that catered for women only. Men were allowed but not trained at that monastery.

I saw a young woman in her 20s running out of one of the buildings and a dog that looked a lot like me Wendy was running alongside her with her robe in its mouth.

I was transfixed.

Partly 'cause I missed Wendy so much and mostly because this was an amazing act of friendship.

I kinda hung around to look at the dog. Tryng to act like that was not why I was there.

I moved closer after sometime and tried to take a picture and s/he turned and growled loudly at me.

I was shocked.

The dog was having no part of me. I left happy still. Amused. That dog was not an object. I needed to ask her/his permission to be there ... :)

I did get a few pictures though. And I researched the dog to find it was a traditional Tibetan dog, a Lhaso Apso.

See here:

Sweet huh?

Now I have all kinds of interests in dogs that live with Indigenous people.

The Saluki is said to be 'the' oldest domesticated breed because its history in what is not the middle east stretches back 5000 plus years.

See here:

Central Africans have a dog called the Basenji. This dog is often called the 'barkless dog'. It is a strong dog that can hunt very well if needed. A prized possession and like the Saluki, it is reverred.


And in southern Africa, the misnamed Rhodesian Ridgeback, or African Lion Dog, is a cross of breeds brought by settlers and those found belonging to the Khoisan people.


This dog can run like no other dog breed. A long distance runner that worked alongside the Khoisan who had to travel great distances to find food.

Now me mutts are ornaments. But they are family members even though my dad has hardly grown comfortable with that reality over the decades.

I want to raise a new puppy when I get back. One from the SPCA.

Hey this comment and the one above is a post ... I am talkative hey?

Peace and thanks for your presence here.


Nicole said...

Cats are better Ridwan.... haha


Ridwan said...

Hey now ... I like cats too. But this festival day was about dogs :0)

Are there cat celebrations?

I have been to the rat temple in Rajastan, the monkey temple in Kathmandu, snakes too ... don't know about cats beyond the myths deduced from the ancient Egyptians.

Be well Nicole.