Gai Jatra – Cow Festival

Gai Jatra – Cow Festival

There was an ancient festival that, as said, was to warship ‘the god of death’, Yamaraj. During the time the festival has changed. Now it is a time for fun, jokes, costumes and more. The modern form of celebration was born during XVII century in Malla Dynasty.

The legend

Long ago a King of Kathmandu, Pratat Malla lost his youngest son. After the death his wife, the Queen, went into a big misery. She didn’t smile at all though he tried many times to cheer her up. On the day of the festival the king announced that anyone who could make the Queen laugh will be rewarded. He also asked to bring the cow procession before the queen.

People tried hard with dancing, acting and funny costumes. Then one group of revelers began to mock the nobility in such a way that made the Queen burst out laughing.That day she realized that many people of the city are loosing people every year and she didn’t feel alone at that point. King was so happy he wanted the festival to be organized every year.

The festival

From then on Gai Jatra changed to be the time of comedy. The festival itself is supposed to commemorate the death of loved ones and help them to move to the next incarnation. The death is a part of life.

The traditions

Each famiy that lost a member is suppose to take part in the festival. They should find a cow and decorate it. But if they couldn’t do so there is a possibility to dress a boy into caw. Make makeup and costume. It’s equally fine to do so. If a man died there mast be the eldest son, and if a woman then the youngest. After preparation the family makes a procession. It must be a time of fun. After the procession there is a feast, dancing and celebrating.

It is celebrated in August/September, in english Calendar. In 2022 it is 12th of August.

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