Although dogs do not enjoy an exalted position like the animals mentioned above, they do carry some importance as companions and faithful servants. Dogs are worshipped in Nepa, and parts of India as the guardians of ancestors during the five-day festival of lights called Tihar. On the second day of the festival, people worship dogs, decorating them with flowers, applying sandalwood paste on their foreheads as the third eye and offering prayers. They are also fed with food. It is believed that dogs guard the doors of heaven and hell. Symbolically, they may also personify Yama, the lord of death, and Yami, his sister. The heavenly dog Sarama is considered the mother of all dogs. Bhairava, a fierce form of Shiva, who is worshipped in Tantra, has a dog as his vehicle. He is also depicted in some images as having the face of a dog. Images of dogs are also worshipped in some Bhairava temples, in addition to feeding the dogs that loiter near such temples. In the Kali Bhairava temple at Varanasi one can see Shiva riding a white dog, and paintings and statues of several dogs. Dogs are worshipped there with garlands, etc. In some folk traditions of southern India, god Mallanna is worshipped as a dog by shepherds who take hounds along with their sheep into forests and mountains during the grazing season. In parts of Maharashtra dogs are often invoked during the worship of Khandoba. Symbolically, dogs represent loyalty, obedience, devotion, and the Vedas. According to Hindu superstitions and omens, dogs yodeling in the night is considered inauspicious. Hindu myths and legends suggest that gods may often appear before humans disguised as dogs either to test them or help them. The Chandogya Upanishad contains a satirical passage, a kind of an allegory, in which insincere worldly priests who perform rituals for money and food are represented as dogs. Dattatreya, who is said to be a manifestation of the triple gods, Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesha is always seen in the company of dogs, who are said to be personification of the Vedas. Since Hindus believe in reincarnation, they believe that dogs may represent past affinities or relationships. For the same reason they do not like the idea of killing or abusing dogs. Streets dogs are huge menace in contemporary India, but because of religious beliefs they are not allowed to be euthanized. Hindus also abhor the idea of eating dog meat. According to Hindu laws, those eat dog meat are considered outcasts (Chandalas) and will suffer from a terrible fate.


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