Festival of Light: Day 2 The Dog and the Goddess

It’s now day 2 of The Festival of Light and due to the weirdness of the Nepal calendar (it’s 2079!) you get two for the price of one …….. dog worship and goddess Laxmi worship.Today is Kukur Puja, a day when you will see all dogs, domesticated and strays, garlanded and fed treats.The origin of Kukur Puja is based on the Hindu belief in Yama, the god of death, who had two dogs as guards. Respecting and being kind to dogs on this day is meant to appease Yama and ensure one can pass the dogs en route to “heaven” when we die. All dogs are included as I’ve mentioned, whether stray or domesticated, personal or institutional such as police dogs, military dogs and dogs trained in search and rescue. In recent years this special day has had an impact in Nepal on the treatment of all animals generally and today messages about animal welfare will be in newspapers, tv and radio in Nepal.

I have been in Kathmandu several times during Tihar staying at my brother-in-law’s house where for many years they had a small dog called Gini. So naturally Gini was fêted and treated across this day too.

Gini in her Kathmandu home on Kukur Puja day.

Early this morning I received a few photos from my good friend Babita in Kathmandu who was head of our education NGO there for many years. Her 6 year old son, Shikshyan, took them as she performed the pooja on her dog with her brother and sister in law involved too.

More photos from Kathmandu earlier today, my sister in law Bimala and her daughter in law Asmita, performing Kukur Pooja.

Laksmi Puja is also celebrated today in the evening as Laksmi, the goddess of wealth, is worshipped following on from the earlier dog worship. On this day in Nepal, people buy gold and silver, precious gemstones, new utensils of copper, brass and bronze as a sign of good luck, prosperity, money and wealth. These are then used as part of the worship and respect shown towards the goddess. Nepalese people perform this worship at a place cleansed with holy water, cow dung and red mud; they light the whole house with candles and lamps across the whole of Kathmandu which is a heck of a sight!

Kukur or Kukra?

On a final note on this day I am often reminded of my feeble attempts to learn and speak Nepali. I did learn enough to help me in my mountaineering forays into the Himalayas where “accommodation” was either in tents or village lodges. It was in lodges that my fluency was severely tested, especially when ordering food. Kukur and Kukra are two very similar words, except one means chicken the other means dog! Much laughter as I often ordered dog curry!

Categories: Buddha

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5 replies

  1. Honoring all sentient beings, crows and dogs included, sounds right to me. Thank you, Dr B for this lesson in faith practices.

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  2. I love the idea of a special day for dogs. Confusion in languages can often lead to laughter. I once asked the taxi driver to take me to his house (mia casa) instead of to Mila Casa in Barcelona. he thought it was very funny.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good one too. I also used the wrong word for chicken when I was walking across some stony fields in the mountains where women were toiling away removing stones. They heard me and I can still hear them laughing to this day!

      Liked by 1 person


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