Kukur Puja

The past few days have been busy, and will finish off tonight with a celebration of “Bhai Tikka”… no wonder my masters thesis isn’t finished yet! There is something new every week. However, every time I participate in these festivals I learn something new… I swear, it’s educational!

Garlanded "kukurs" in Kathmandu

Garlanded "kukurs" in Kathmandu

Anyway… as part of Tihar (as you guys all now know… what Nepalis call Diwali, the “festival of lights”) there are several days, where each day is “special” for a specific thing. One day it is crows, another day cows, another dogs, then yourself, and finally brothers. As part of the festivities you are suppose to do a special “puja,” or ceremony/prayer, for each thing on their specific day and (I guess the word is) “spoil” them with treats and attention. This is hard… P and I don’t have a bunch of crows and cows wandering around, but this year we were in luck… because in January P and I adopted a dog–a cute little rescue mutt from Puerto Rico. So this year we had a chance to celebrate “Kukur Puja”—kukur meaning “dog” in Nepali.

Our little "kukur" Sampson wiggled a bit and got tikka powder on his face :)

Our little "kukur" Sampson wiggled a bit and got tikka powder on his face :)

Thus Sampson had a special Saturday, filled with treats (especially his favorite- cheese!), puja and lots of love! The holiday essentially celebrates the old adage “dog is man’s best friend” or as Wikipedia so eloquently explained, the holiday “acknowledge[s] the cherished relationship between humans and the oldest ever tamed animal.” It was the first time P and I celebrated, so we invited our friends AS and N over to help. We lit some incense, and made a flower garland for Sampson and gave him a red powder tikka for good measure. I must say, he looked awfully cute (although the flower garland didn’t last long).

C lighting candles in hopes of Lakshmi giving us wealth and prosperty for the next year...

C lighting candles in hopes of Lakshmi giving us wealth and prosperity for the next year...

Other then that, we spent a large part of the weekend driving back and forth to central New York for a Diwali party at a friend’s house. As part of the party we all dressed up South Asian style (of course, I’ll jump at any excuse to do so!) and lit lots of little tea lights to welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. Supposedly, on Lakshmi Puja she visits houses that are clean, adorned with lights and where the people are hardworking (not lazy!) and she brings wealth and good fortune for the upcoming year.

Luckily we finished the dishes and made the bed before running off to the party… because in these tough economic times, who doesn’t need a little Lakshmi in their life? ;)

Tonight is “Bhai Tikka” when “sisters” celebrate their “brothers” and the brothers give their sisters gifts in return. AS is planning a puja and gathering, so I’ll write more about that later.

Phew, between American and Nepali holidays… autumn can be exhausting!

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2 responses to “Kukur Puja

  1. happinessandsimplicity

    Oh my goodness. At first, when I saw the picture of your pup, I got all worried that you had done something really unconventional by giving your dog tikka. I was worried that people were going to get on your case for being irreverent or sacrilegious, or something like that! Imagine my relief at discovering that this is a cultural ritual! :)
    I think that is so wonderful, that animals are respected in that way in some cultures/religions.
    I guess I have been jaded too much by Western ideas – that whole “you know your pet doesn’t have an eternal soul, and won’t be there in heaven when you get there” thing.
    This really made me happy.

    I wish I had known about this – I am acquainted with a group of crows in my neighborhood, who I would like to have spoiled and paid respects to on their own special day.

  2. Sampson looks so cute with his tikka!

    (If my in-laws knew about this sort of celebration, they would be all over it, I think. They’re crazy about dogs.)

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