Friday, November 1, 2013

O My Dog !

Today, dogs are being honored all over the country for their sincere service to mankind. They are seen strutting on the street with tika, vermilion powder, on their forehead and flower garland on their neck, and the belly, that was empty previous day, now full of delicacies. Dogs might have wondering 'what went wrong with Nepalis that their heart suddenly filled with love and respect for us?'

 
Tihar, the festival of lights, is celebrated in Nepal for five days worshipping not only human and the Gods, but also animals like crow, dog and cow. Each day has its significance as the first day, also known as 'Kag Tihar', is observed by worshipping crows and offering them delicious meals. Crows are considered as the messenger of the Yama, Lord of Death. It is believed that their cawing would bring sadness and grief to the family. So they are worshipped to keep the sadness at bay.

The second day is called 'Kukur Tihar' which is dedicated to worshipping of dogs. Dogs are worshipped by putting red tika on their forehead and flower garland on their neck, and offering them delicious meals.

Cows are worshipped similar way on the third day, called 'Gai Tihar'. In Hinduism, cows are the most sacred animal as they are the sign of prosperity and wealth. The significance of this day is also due to worshipping of Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of Wealth. House is kept clean, decorated and lit with oil lamps to welcome Goddess to the sanctum of the house. Ritual of Govardhan Puja or Goru Tihar (Oxen Worshipping) is observed on the fourth day. The fifth day is Bhai Tika, where sisters put tika on the forehead of their beloved brothers and perform various rituals for prosperity, happiness and long life of their brothers.

As dogs are very loyal, people keep them for guarding their house and village from the intruders. They had been widely used for hunting wild animals in the past and still being used for same purpose in some Terai districts. In the hills, dogs help people chasing monkeys that come to village to feed on corn during corn harvesting season. Despite their sincerity and hard work, they are not treated very well. They have to survive on leftover foods and they also have to bear cruelty from human occasionally.

The stray dogs, especially, are in desperate plight as people do not care them much and even avoid touching them because of fear of contagious diseases, as these dogs are not clean and are not vaccinated. People's attitude towards the animals depends upon their economic value such that those animals are left on their own which are useless for them. However, pet dogs which are under the care of rich family get all the attention of love and caring.

Keeping dogs as pets symbolizes the economic status of the family as it is expensive to take best care of them that many families could not afford. But we could certainly extend our decent care towards these poor animals. Our culture has yearned for the love for these beautiful creatures and they have been praised for their faithfulness in many scriptures.

After epic war of Mahabharat, five Pandavas and Drapadi retired from worldly affair and they, accompanied by a dog, made their final journey to pilgrimage to the Himalayas. While Drapadi and four of the Pandavas fell to their death, Yudhisthir and dog reached to summit where Indra came in chariot to escort him to heaven. He asked Yudhisthir to abandon the dog saying, "There is no place in the heaven for a dog." Yudhisthir replied that he would not go to heaven unless the faithful dog was allowed to come along with him.

Dogs deserve better care and love from us. It doesn't make sense that we pamper them one day and leave them in the lurch next day. The festival of Tihar represents the divine attachment between human and animals that reminds us for true love for these beautiful animals.

3 comments:

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