The Nepalese today entertained the dogs with garlands and delicacies, on the occasion of the Hindu festival of Tihar, which entered today on its second day, to recognize the special relationship between animals and humans, as tradition dictates.
"The five-day festival is very important because it shows the relationship between humans and the divine, not only with the gods, but also with animals such as dogs, crows and cows," Ram Hari Adhikar, a local priest, told Efe. from Bhaktapur, about 15 kilometers from Kathmandu.
According to Adhikar, Tihar is also celebrated as the victory of good over evil, and "means the return of good health and prosperity to the lives of the people".
It is one of the most important festivities in the Himalayan country, the cradle of Buddhism, but in which according to the 2011 census more than 80% of the population practices Hinduism.
The devotees gave baths to the dogs today to decorate them with garlands and with the traditional tika (a mixture of red powder and rice that is imposed as a blessing), before offering them delicious delicacies.
Residents of urban areas receive stray dogs in their homes for a day although, according to data from the Kathmandu Animal Treatment Center, the more than 22,500 dogs living on the streets of the capital live in deplorable conditions during the rest of the year.
The festival, also known as Diwali and characterized by fireworks and typical sweets, began on Monday with devotees feeding crows, considered as messengers of the god of death Yama.
The cow, the most sacred animal for Hinduism and whose consumption is considered sin, in addition to being punished by law, will be tomorrow the center of all attention and will receive all kinds of food.
On the fourth day the ox is worshiped, fundamental for plowing the land and as a pack animal, while the fifth and final day is the turn of the humans, during which the sisters decorate with the tika the forehead of their brothers and they, In return, they promise protection.
Hindus believe that during Tihar, the goddess of wealth Laxmi visits their homes, so in the days before the holiday devotees are busy cleaning their houses and decorating them with flowers, oil lamps and drawings on the ground with dust of colors.
Among such adoration, the festival also leaves room for the most earthly card games, in which betting is usually considered a good omen, an activity usually badly seen the rest of the year.