Tihar festivities kick off in Nepal with worship of dogs, crows
Kathmandu, Nov 3 (EFE).- Tens of thousands of Hindus in Nepal worshiped crows and dogs on Wednesday on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Tihar, recognizing the special relationship between animals and humans.
This year, Kukur (Dog) Tihar and Kaag (Crow) Tihar fell on the same day, while usually during this five-day festival crows are venerated on the first day and dogs on the second, Dipendra Adhikar, a temple priest, explained to EFE.
But as per the Hindu calendar, “Kaag Tihar could not be celebrated on Tuesday” because of the positioning of the moon, he added.
This date is also an important one for the devotees of Shiva, one of the most important gods of the Hindu pantheon, as they fast from dawn to dusk and end the day with a puja or ritual prayer.
The Hindu festival of Tihar is one of the most important in the Himalayan country, where more than 80 percent of the population practice Hinduism as per the 2011 census.
As a part of the festivities, people bathe dogs, garland them with flowers and apply the traditional tika – a mark on the forehead with red powder and rice as a sign of blessing -, before offering them delicacies.
Tihar, which bears certain similarities with the celebration of Diwali in neighboring India and is characterized by fireworks and partaking of sweets, kicks off with devotees feeding crows, considered messengers of the Yama, the god of death.
Cows, the most sacred animals in Hinduism and whose consumption is considered a sin and punishable by law, is set to be worshiped Thursday on what will be the third day of Tihar.
The fourth day is for worshiping the ox, crucial in plowing the fields and an important beast of burden.
On the fifth and final day, it is the turn of humans, as women apply the tika the forehead of their brothers, who in turn promise to protect them.
Hindus believe that during Tihar, Laxmi – the goddess of wealth – visits their homes, so devotees clean their houses and decorate them with flowers, oil lamps and colorful drawings on the floor as a sign of welcome.
The festivities are also marked by card games, where gambling is common, which otherwise is frowned upon during the rest of the year. EFE