In Nepal, Every Dog Has Its Day. Literally.

Published October 5, 2015
Updated February 27, 2024
Dog Festival Nepal Sprinkled

Basking in admiration while receiving a Kukur Tihar blessing. Source: Imgur

Most dog owners would do just about anything for their canine companions. In Nepal, Hindu populations take that affection to another level.

Coinciding with the traditional Hindu festival of Diwali, the people of Nepal reserve the second day of the annual five-day Tihar Festival to honor man’s best friend. On this day — called Kukur Tihar, or “worship of the dogs” — participants pay tribute to the divine attachment between humans and their faithful, four-legged companions.

Dogs play a significant role in Hindu mythology. Sarama — the mother of dogs — assists the ruler of Heaven, with dogs guarding the gates to the afterlife. Thus during the festival, all dogs – even strays – enjoy special treats, are decorated with malla (garlands of marigold), and colorful head markings to denote their sacredness. The markings, called tika, also serve to bless all who encounter the dog.

Dogs aren’t the only animals honored during the festival, though. Worshipers also pay tribute to cows (which signify wealth and prosperity) and crows, to which people make food offerings in order to deter sadness, grief and to banish death from their homes.

The festivals of Tihar are meant to commemorate not just the sacred bond humans hold with their creator, but also the divine in our relationships with living beings on Earth — something of which we should all take note from time to time.

This year, the Tihar Festival begins on November 9th. In the meantime, enjoy these photos of Kukur Tihars past:

Dog Festival Nepal Garland On

A patient pup receives a garland of bright orange marigolds. Source: Connect Citizen

Dog Festival Nepal Smiling

Colorful tika adorn these majestic dogs. Source: AFP/Getty Images

Dog Festival Nepal Sitting Up

This jaunty little guy joins the police dogs in putting on a show. Source: Imgur

Dog Festival Nepal Paint

The vermilion-colored dye nearly covers almost the whole face of this adored dog. Source: Imgur

Dog Festival Nepal Treats

Here, patrons dole out special treats in what is likely the dog’s favorite part of the festival by far. Source: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Dog Festival Nepal Tongue

Perhaps this sweet guy’s mouth is watering at the anticipation of his treats. Source: Reuters

Dog Festival Nepal Pup

An almost reflective and reverent demeanor can be seen on this pup’s face. Source: The Stray Photographer

Dog Festival Nepal Eyes

This dog practically lives the adage that the eyes are the windows to the soul. Source: Diaadia

Dog Festival Nepal Pup Paint

Applying the tika, in which powdered dyes are sometimes mixed with yogurt. Source: reddit

Dog Festival Nepal Yellow Lab

Who wouldn’t want to celebrate this cute face? Source: reddit

Dog Festival Nepal Kid

It must be uplifting to see so many appreciated dogs around the city; both strays and those with homes. Source: ofenmacher

Dog Festival Nepal White

This fluffy pooch gets anointed on his porch. Source: Everest Uncensored

Dog festival Nepal welcome

Man’s best friend deserves all the love and respect in the world, every day. Source: AP Photo/Binod Joshi

Erin Kelly
An All That's Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she's designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.
Savannah Cox
Savannah Cox holds a Master's in International Affairs from The New School as well as a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and now serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Sheffield. Her work as a writer has also appeared on DNAinfo.
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Kelly, Erin. "In Nepal, Every Dog Has Its Day. Literally..", October 5, 2015, Accessed May 19, 2024.