Nepal’s Gaijatra Festival Commences in Kathmandu Valley
The annual celebration known as Gaijatra, or the ‘cow festival,’ has kicked off today in three cities within the Kathmandu Valley, along with various other locations across the nation. This festive occasion is marked by an abundance of joy, humor, satire, and entertainment.
Commencing on the first day of the waning moon in the lunar month of Bhadra (Bhadra Pratiprada), this tradition extends for a week.
During this venerable custom, individuals of all ages dress up as cows and jesters, parading through the city in eccentric attire. This peculiar procession serves as a tribute to those who have passed away in the past year.
Families who have experienced loss offer fruits, bread, beaten rice, curd, and monetary contributions to those taking part in the procession, including the mock cows.
Legend has it that this festival originated during the reign of King Pratap Malla. In an effort to console his grieving queen, who had lost her son to a smallpox epidemic, the king ordered his subjects to arrange humorous and satirical performances in various comical poses. This tradition evolved into the Gaijatra festival, where people express their thoughts on social and political issues, human foibles, and contemporary events through comedic skits, cartoons, and similar creative expressions.
The government has declared a public holiday for this occasion. Beyond the Kathmandu Valley, Gaijatra is also celebrated in Banepa, Dhulikhel, Trishuli, Dolakha, Khotang, Bhojpur, Chainpur, Ilam, Dharan, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bahrabise, Hetauda, and Pokhara.