There is a festival celebrated in Nepal for Dogs called Kukur Tihar, solely to thanking dogs for their loyalty and friendship.

On this day, all dogs, whether pets or strays, are offered treats and worshipped by placing a tika on their forehead and garlands of marigolds around their necks. This day marks the special relationship between humans and dogs, where dogs are thanked and celebrated for their loyalty, service and companionship.

Dogs occupy a special place in Hinduism, not just as loyal companions but also as messengers of Yama and incarnations of the god Bhairava. In the Hindu epic The Mahabharata, the five Pandavas are followed by a dog as they ascend to Svarga, the abode of the gods. Yudhishthira, the eldest Pandava, watches as his four brothers and wife all fall along the way until it is only the dog that loyally follows him. At the gates of Svarga, Yudhishthira refuses to enter without the dog, who reveals himself to be the god Yama. Thus, the ancient bond between man and dog is established in the Mahabharata.

As mentioned in the Mahabharata, Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of Lord Shiva, had a dog as a vahana (vehicle). Yama, the god of death, is believed to own two guard dogs – each with four eyes. The dogs are said to watch over the gates of Naraka, the Hindu concept of Hell. Owing to this belief, this day is also observed as Naraka Chaturdashi.

Kukur Tihar has since acquired widespread popularity on the internet and in 2016, was even adopted by a Mexican animal rights group for a similar celebration in Mexico City. The festival also celebrates crows and cows.

U.S. Ambassador to Nepal also shared his picture while celebrating Kukur Tihar

It’s not just Nepali and Indian people who celebrated their canine friends during the Day of the Dogs. People around the world decided to take part by paying tribute to their furry companions and posting adorable photos on social media too.