Hundred of annual festivals are celebrated in Nepal throughout the year. Gaijatra festival is one of them. It’s a major festival among Nepalese Newar communities, especially in Kathmandu valley. This festival generally falls in the month of Bhadra. The name Gaijatra is made from two words. Gai means Cow and Jatra reflects a parade, so this is the festival of cow.Traditionally, every family who had death in family during the year should participate on this procession by leading a cow in the street. If the cow isn’t available, then young kids are dressed up as a symbol of a cow, which is considered a fair substitute. In Hindu religion, peoples have faith the cow will help the departed soul to go to heaven. They shows their honor to the death of their family members.
Gaijatra festival is about to remember their late family member.
According to the history, late king Pratap Malla, announced to celebrate Gaijatra festival in the 18th century. At that time he was the powerful ruler of Kantipur (today known as Kathmandu). The Queen of Pratap Malla was extremely depressed after the death of their very young son. King tried with all his effort to bring smiles on the Queen’s face, but no one could cheer her up. After all things, the King announced to take out a procession from each house who had lost their family member in the same year.
He also ordered the people to do as much as funny things to bring the smile on Queen’s face. As the King’s order the people took out the procession from their homes by dressing as a cow and funny makeup on their face. She smiled at that moment and got relieved. Finally the procession helped the queen to understand that many people in town had lost their family members. Ever since, Gaijatra festival has been celebrated in Nepal.
Gaijatra festival is also regarded as the day of liberty to talk, raise their voice, satirizing to the system and the government. Various entertaining programs are organized during the festival by a group of comedy artist. People also enjoy the time with jokes, funny songs, drama and humors until late evening at a similar kind of entertaining program.
Gaijatra festival is the meaningful events of the year for many families who lost their loved ones. Kathmandu Valley (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur) is the place where this festival celebrated widely by Newar Communities. Government gives a special holiday only inside Kathmandu valley during this festival.