Dogs celebrate the Tihar festival

(Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)

Blessing of the canines

Nepalese police dogs wear marigold garlands and vermillion pigment during the local Tihar festival in Kathmandu. Tihar is the Nepalese equivalent of Diwali, which is an important five-day festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains, Buddhists, Sikhs and Arya Samajists.

The date of Tihar varies every year based on the new moon day of Kartika, the 7th month in the Nepalese calendar. In 2016, Tihar will take places Oct. 27-31.

During different days of the festival, it is customary for people to offer blessings to different animals. For example, crows, which are considered the messengers of Yamaraj (the god of death), are celebrated on the first day. The second day of Tihar, however, is dedicated to dogs.

Typically, a Hindu reveler will celebrate these loyal canines by feeding them treats and festooning them with colorful garlands and tika marks.

Nepalese officers festoon dogs with vermillion pigment and flowers

(Photo: Prakash Mathema/AFP/Getty Images)

This story was originally written in November 2012 but has been updated with additional information.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.