When Bhola Bhairav of Jaunliapatty died on December 4, the locals shed tears. They bade him farewell observing final rites and rituals.
While most might think, what is so pathbreaking about giving someone a dignified death? Well, Bhola Bhairav wasn’t a fellow human, he was a stray dog in the Cuttack locality.
The stray had made a special place in the hearts of the residents since his arrival in Jaunliapatty in 2006.
One thing made Bhola Bhairav stand out. Every time there was a death in the locality, the dog would accompany the relatives of the deceased to the cremation ground. He would wait until the cremation rituals were over and return to the neighbourhood only after taking a bath in the river like the deceased’s relatives, resident Prakash Agarwal told the Times of India.
It was then common for the dog to remain upset all day after the cremation mourning the death.
There were times when the residents would have to feed the dog forcibly.
“Looking at its emotions and actions, residents fell in love with the animal. The dog has never harmed anyone in the locality,” says Prakash.
Bhola’s loyalty to the residents is apparent in the fact that when the dog passed away, they did everything in their power to give me him a dignified burial. Placing his body on a hand-pulled cart, the residents held a procession as per traditional rituals with a dhol playing in the background. He was then laid to rest with a burial.
In fact, the residents mourned the death of Bhola again, like people do for their deceased loved ones, by holding a mass feast, according to the Hindu custom of ‘ekadas.’ This is the 11th-day death ritual for mourning. But instead of feeding humans, they held a feast for 51 street dogs.
These strays were fed paneer and biscuits. The residents also organised a bhajan programme at a temple in the vicinity to pay shradhanjali (homage/ memorial service) to their beloved four-legged friend.
This heart-warming gesture by the locals really reinstates our faith in the unconditional love that continues to exist between humans and animals.
Feature Image Credit: Times of India.