Kathmandu– The second biggest festival of Nepalis, Yamapanchak or Tihar has commenced. Tigar is a festival of light and colour. Apart from that it is also the festival in which the crow, dog, cow, oxen are offered the best feed and worshipped.
The day of the cow worship has special significance as the cow is sacred for the Hindus and it symbolizes goddess Laxmi, the goddess of wealth and prosperity. So, people worship the cow, garland it and offer it various delicacies. Similarly, the oxen is worshipped and offered delicacies on the occasion.
People who do not have cows and oxen or dog at home for this purpose make it a point to go to places in search of these animals on the special days dedicated to these animals during the Tihar festival. Some people even click photos of them worshipping the animals and post it in the social sites to show that they have carried out the rituals.
Like they say every dog has its day, this saying applies to these animals during the Tihar. But the plight of stray cows, bulls, dogs, roaming the streets- sick and dying and abandoned - tells a completely different story. "I feel that the extra love that people show to cows, oxen and the dog during Tihar is like a drama, only for show.
The animals are worshipped and fed with delicacies on one day of year and what about the rest of the days? What's the use of worshipping and garlanding these animals on one day when you do not even bother about them in the rest of the days of the year," animal rights activist Bina Panta said regarding the neglect to animals.
There was this news of about 36 cows and oxen transported from Nepalgunj to Dailekh in truck being cruelly treated along the way. It is said that some of these animals were even shoved down the cliff to die. Many carcasses of these animals were found in the jungle in Surkhet. Many animals were found abandoned in a injured condition. According to Panta, this single episode itself is enough to indicate the condition of animals in the country and how they are treated.
"Those who truly love animals should be concerned about their well-being and protection every day, not just on a single day," Panta emphasized. A team of Bina Panta has been presently on a campaign of animal protection through the Society to Stop Cruelty towards Animals.
People who love and care about the animals are associated with the Society under the patronage of culture expert Dr Gobinda Tandon. Animal rights activist Bikesh Shrestha is its president and it has people like Samjhana Acharya, Shanta Subba, Reema Kapali, Beena Panta, Sanjita Khadka, Rita Subba, Neha Shrestha, among others, who deeply care about animal rights and their protection.
The animal protection centre the Society is running currently has 80 dogs that have been rescued from the streets. Similarly, the centre has cows and calves as well under its care. "We can see animals which are sick or have been run over by vehicles writhing in pain in many places. It deeply hurts me to see this," Panta said. According to her, the dogs can scavenge for food and somehow survive, but the situation of such abandoned cows and oxen is really pitiable.
Those cattle have consumed plastic for a long time and it would shorten their lifespan, according to veterinarian doctors. As Panta said, those cows and oxen were rescued in a period of last few years, many of them had died amidst the treatment.
Efforts to keep them alive through medical treatment turned out to be futile as they had swallowed plastics, she added. Panta and her group are working for the rescue and protection of street animals.
"If the State is serious about the rights of animals, we have the solution for their management." Presently, 80 dogs are under the group's protection. Animals living a normal life until today will be seen injured tomorrow morning after being hit by vehicles in the night. Lately, voices are being raised for the rights of animals. The number of animal protection centers are on the rise.
The Animal Nepal, Sneha Care, Kathmandu Animal Treatment Center Nepal and Shree Foundation are among those organisations dedicated to the protection of stray cows, oxen, dogs, cats and donkeys. Some dogs under the protection of these organisations are disabled as they were hit by motor vehicles.
Some are infected and some are paralysed. According to Panta, her group is dedicated to the rescue of stray dogs and other animals throughout the day. "Most of the time, we found ourselves on the street rushing here and there for the rescue of stray animals."
The group is also involved in the rescue of street people. As she said, after injured dogs become recovered, they are dropped in the previous locations following the birth-control surgery on them.
Dr Govinda Tandon had established a society to prevent brutality against livestock 27 years ago. The organisation believes that Earth is home for all living beings and they all have the right to life without being harmed.