At 5pm every evening, a plump, middle-age flower seller at the Ganesh Temple in Kamaladi brings out three pots of rice, dal, and meat. She sits on a mat on a corner of the street, and feeds her furry four-legged friends.
Like a mother tending her children, Gyani Deula talks to her 21 dogs, coaxing them to eat up. She heaps ladles full of rice and curry into their bowls. Bijuli is one of the shier dogs who prefers to eat alone, so Gyani gets up to feed her separately.
Gyani has lived on the temple grounds all her life, after being abandoned by her family she has found canine companionship more rewarding. "The dogs have been more loyal, caring, and protective than any friend or relative," says Gyani, hugging Sweety.
PICS: TRISHNA RANA
Gyani adopts every dog that is dumped at the temple, and takes care of them as if they were her own children. The 21 dogs are all registered with a nearby vet, and Gyani makes sure they get their shots and the females are neutered. The dogs get a breakfast of milk and biscuits and even a bowl of Pedigree dog food. The puppies are handfed with human baby food and eggs.
All this costs Rs 7,000 a month, and she still owes the vet Rs 5,000 for the shots. Gyani's son and daughter-in-law left her because they couldn't handle the attention and resources she was devoting to her pets.
Gyani knows the names of all her dogs by heart. "That is Khaire, Kali, and Gore," she says, pointing out the mostly-female mongrels, "and those are Amitabh Bachchan, Rekha, Sweety, Bijuli, Naulo, and Bhakta Bahadur."
Despite the fact that dogs are gods in Nepal, and are worshipped this year on Kukur Tihar on Tuesday 13 November, hundreds of mongrel puppies are discarded on the streets of Kathmandu every year.
Gyani's dogs are gentle and friendly, even with strangers. They like to playfully chase bikes that circle the temple which they guard at night. They get up at four every morning, lining up in front of the temple and howling in unison as the priest rings the bell.
As it got dark one evening this week, Gyani set out mattresses and blankets for her dogs under the shed where the chariot wheels are stored.
Gyani has seen people in fancy cars stop, dump the puppies on the sidewalk, and go inside the temple to pray. Threading a marigold garland, Gyani says: "What kind of dharma is that? God will punish them one day for their cruelty."
Watch a short clip of Gyani Deula (in Nepali)
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