During the Tihar festival, one of the most important religious festivals in Nepal, there is one day dedicated to worship dogs, “kukur” in Nepali.
Early morning, through Kathmandu streets, people put “tikka”, red pigment on the dog’s forehead, a flower garland of marigolds on the neck, throw rice and some drops of water. Is offered food to the dogs like sweets, meat and the traditional “sel roti”, the Nepali traditional bread made from rice flour and deep fry.
Both home and stray dogs receive the puja, as is believed that this ritual brings protection to humans and strength the link between humans and dogs.
The dogs seam a bit confuse with the “tikka” and the garlands, but they easily forget the suspicion and the discomfort in front of the food treats.
On the third day of Tihar Festival is the turn of the cows to be worship, with offerings of rice, corn, fruits, salt, wheat flour, cookies, chapattis and green veggies! At the same time that they receive food treats, people light candles and incense, drop flower petals on their head and their back, and wrap the tail’s cow with a colourful string. Sesame oil id drop in the forehead of the cow and a “tikka” is made with red pigment.
Contrary to the dogs, that in the morning are more in the mood to sleep that to have food, the cows get enthusiastic with the offerings being totally indifferent to the marigolds garland and all the “puja” rituals. Small money bills are put on the head of the cows that quickly disappears on the pocket of someone, but that doesn’t seam to disturb the ritual of Gai Tihar.
Tihar is celebrated mostly during the day, usually with early morning pujas, but on the evening of the third day of the festival the dark streets of Kathmandu lights up for welcoming the Goddess Lakshmi.
At the entrance of the houses and shops the floor is decorated with colourful designs, mostly mandalas, adorned with flowers, candles and food offerings, while garlands of marigolds are hung above the doors.
The entrance of the houses and shops are painted with a red-brown mud, creating a path that is light up with candles to invite the goddess Lakshmi to come inside.
Along the night people gathering at the streets decorated with lights, chattering, playing music and cards, while groups of children go from door to door, singing songs ask for money and sweets, firecrackers blow every now and then, the creating one of the most animated nights of Nepal.
Note: the best time to see caw puja and dog puja is early morning… so be prepared to jump out of the bed just after the sun rise. Walking along Kathmandu streets you can see a bit everywhere the Kukur Puja, but is better to look for a area with several butchers as there’s a favorite dogs place. For Gai Puja you can see some cows at Basantapur, near Durbar Square, the ground at the entrance of Pashupatinath Temple complex (near the ticket counter, but you don’t need to get the ticket). Lakshimi Puja happens in the evening of the third day of the Tihar festival and is allover the city streets.