Tihar exposes hypocrisy towards animals

Kathmandu, October 25

The second biggest festival of Nepalis, Yamapanchak or Tihar has commenced. Tihar is a festival of lights. During this festival animals such as crow, dog, cow and oxen are offered the best food and worshipped.

The day of cow worship has special significance as the cow is a sacred animal for Hindus. People worship the cow, garland it and offer various delicacies. Similarly, oxen are also worshipped and offered delicacies on the occasion.

People, who do not have cows and oxen or dog at home, make it a point to go to places in search of these animals on the special days dedicated to them during Tihar.

Some people even click photos of themselves worshipping the animals and post it on social media to show that they have carried out the rituals. But the plight of stray cows, bulls and dogs that roam the city streets tells a completely different story. “I feel that the love and respect that people show towards cows, oxen and dogs during Tihar exposes human hypocrisy. These animals are worshipped and fed with delicacies on one particular occasion, but what about the rest of the year? What’s the use of worshipping and garlanding these animals only during Tihar when you do not even bother about them for the rest of the year,” animal rights activist Bina Panta said.

Recently, there was news about the death of more than 20 cows while they were being transported from Nepalgunj to Dailekh in a truck. It is said some of these animals were even shoved down the cliff. Carcasses of these animals were found in the jungle in Surkhet. According to Panta, this single incident shows how animals are treated in the country.

“Those who truly love animals should be concerned about their well-being and protection every day, not just for a single day,” Panta emphasised. She and her team have launched a campaign for the protection of animals through Society to Stop Cruelty towards Animals.

The animal protection centre that the society runs currently has 80 dogs, which were rescued from the streets. Similarly, the centre has cows and calves under its care. “We see animals which are sick or have been run over by vehicles writhing in pain at many places and it really gives pain to an animal lover like me,” Panta said.

According to her, dogs can scavenge for food and somehow survive, but the situation of abandoned cows and oxen is really pitiable. The number of animal protection centres and organisations are on the rise. The Animal Nepal, Sneha’s Care, Kathmandu Animal Treatment Centre Nepal and Shree Foundation are among those organisations working in the field of animal rights and protection. However, the condition of stray cattle and dogs has not changed much.