Gai Jatra (Cow Festival) in Nepal
This festival is being observed from 30, August, 2015 and continued for 8 days. It is one of most historical and cultural festivals in Nepal celebrated by mainly Newar ethnic group in Kathmandu Valley Street, marked as a public holiday. Gai stands for cow and Jatra stands for festival in Nepali Language. As celebration is held in commemoration of the death of people during the year, in this festival, every family losing their relative during the preceding year come to take participation in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu with a cow. A young boy dresses up as substitute of a cow if there is no cow.
It is believed that people in ancient time were used to worshipping Yamaraj, the god of death on this day. The modern form of Gai Jatra was initiated by Malla Kings. There is a great historic hidden inside it to be observed this festival. Pratap Malla who lost his young son, his wife was very despaired with the demise of his son, and became unhappy. The king was upset to see the condition of his queen. King did several efforts to make smile on queen face. But he could become unable to make her happy any more. Then, Pratap made a declaration with a reward that anybody who could make laugh on his queen. King suggested bringing the cow procession in front of the disappointing queen. People showed different customs and humors act. This kind of dances and humors gave queen smile for a temporary however the procession enabled a great relief to her with knowing and realizing that she was not alone to be shocked and there were several deaths occurred during the year in the city. Death is inevitable and natural phenomenon, nobody could control and win over the death, everybody has to face it one day, thus accept the reality of death ultimately. When Gai Jatra is over, the event takes part in another tradition form during the afternoon, where all participants dress up and wear masks and enjoy the moment with songs, jokes, humors until late evening.
Nowadays, Gai Jatra is not confined to this event only. Several comedy shows, acts, and drams are held in different places of Kathmandu valley with live broadcasting on Television and Radio. This is the festival to be expressed and spoken freely, humors, satires, and jokes act towards the political system. The festival has given the liberty to talk, point and satire the government and leader system. Foreigners visiting Nepal during the months of August and September should not miss this grand event.