“Tihar is the worst because of the explosions of firecrackers, sometimes dogs which are out in the open without protection get heart attacks,” Shrestha adds.
Kukur Tihar is one of the most unique festivals in the world, and international documentaries have been made on the Nepali reverence for dogs. It has inspired ‘Kukur Tihar Mexico’ the same week as in Nepal. The least we can do, therefore, is to be kind to the dogs we venerate.
The good news is that more Nepali families are now inclined towards keeping dogs and letting their children grow up with pets, instilling in them virtues of kindness and compassion towards all living beings from a young age.
However, the way Nepalis treat strays and community dogs can be very different from pets at home. Dogs on the streets do not necessarily belong to individuals, but are part of the communities that they guard in return for food and (sometimes) lodgings.
But there have been horrific incidences of animal cruelty towards community dogs, including poisoning by city authorities in the name of culling populations, or preventing the spread of rabies. Animal welfare groups estimate that there are over 100,000 dogs that live on the streets of Kathmandu Valley alone.
Read also: Microchipping Nepal’s dogs, Aria Shree Parasai