Dance, song, mirth, and laughter are all part of Gai Jatra. In the Kathmandu Valley, cow festivals are celebrated to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. People are mostly children who the deceased’s relatives send to the festival as a remembrance of their departed relatives. Parades in the streets are made up of people dressed as cows.
The festival is typically held in July and August.
In Gai Jatra, we remember our departed loved ones as well as ease their pain. Gai is the English word for cow. In Hinduism, cows are considered goddesses of wealth. During this festival, people share their sorrows and take comfort from knowing that their loved ones are safe.
Along with the gay parade, strange clothes are worn by many people on this day. Eight days are dedicated to the festival in Bhaktapur. Originating in the days of the Malla kings, this celebration dates back to ancient times. A long time was spent in mourning for the Malla Queen after her son’s untimely death.
A royal procession was organized in order to show the queen that she was not alone with her suffering in an attempt to console her. The procession that goes through the streets is filled with much joy and laughter.
Background of Gai Jatra
“Gai” refers to cows, and “Jatra” to a procession (festival).
Generally, the Gai Jatra festival falls during August/September of the English calendar year.
This year Gai Jatra is on August 22, 2021. That is on Bhadra 07, 2078 BS.
Among Nepal’s most popular festivals is the festival of cows. The ancients believed this day was dedicated to the worship of Yamaraj, the god of death.
Gai Jatra’s modern form originated during the reign of the Malla Kings of Nepal in the medieval period. The current form of Gai Jatra features humorous acts, parody, and comedy, and was started by the then king of Kathmandu, Pratap Malla. In Kathmandu, he created Rani Pokhari (Pond) and built a temple in the middle of it.
A cow is traditionally led through Kathmandu streets by every family whose member died during the previous year.
As a substitute for a cow if one cannot be found, a young kid dressed as one is acceptable. Nonetheless, it has become tradition for kids to wear funny costumes to lead a cow.
The young son of Pratap Malla passed away. The queen was suffering greatly at the hands of her husband. When he saw the condition of his queen, the king was very disappointed. Despite millions of attempts, the king could not make the queen smile. Platap vowed that the queen would adequately reward those who made her laugh.
Pratap Malla requested that the cow procession be brought before the sad queen. Following that, people performed humorous acts and dressed up in various costumes. She finally smiled after the dance and procession. While she smiled at the moment, the processions gave her great relief. During the time period, several deaths occurred in the city, and she is not the only one affected. Everyone can’t control death because it is a natural occurrence.
As a result of this, the tradition of cow procession with boys dressed in funny costumes has been prevalent since Pratap Malla’s time. Considering that every one of us will face death one day, the boys wear monkey tails and make up like monkeys and Hunuman walks through the city streets to show people this reality. Gai Jatra slowly evolved into doing humorous acts such as jokes, satires, mockery, and lampooning in the Gai Jatra days.
Following the cow procession, in the afternoon, everyone takes part in an additional traditional event that involves dressing up and wearing masks. Meanwhile, there are also moments where people enjoy song, humor, jokes, and mockery until the evening.
GAI JATRA is a festival that is meant to prepare people for life after death and to accept death as a reality. We can all feel some relief of grief and sorrow after seeing the cow possession and realizing that other people have lost loved ones as well in this country.
What is the gaijatra celebration?
Dance, song, mirth, and laughter are all part of Gai Jatra. In the Kathmandu Valley, cow festivals are celebrated to commemorate loved ones who have passed away. People are mostly children who the deceased’s relatives send to the festival as remembrance of their departed relatives. Paraded through the streets dressed as cows.
Watch Gai Jatra video on youtube: