Gaijatra observed across the country
KATHMANDU: The traditional festival of Gaijatra or the ‘cow festival’ was observed in Kathmandu Valley amidst fun, gaiety, humor, satire and entertainment today.A Gaijatra was held at the Hanumandhoka, Kathmandu, wishing for peace to the departed souls.
During the festival, people appeared in the guise of hermits, mad people and political leaders with a view to entertaining the people. Foreign tourists visiting the site also enjoyed the festival.
The festival that begins on the first day of the waning moon in the month of Bhadra as per the lunar calendar, lasts for a week.
During this time-honored tradition, people of all ages in the guise of cows and lunatics go around the city, wearing odd costumes to commemorate those who died during the past year. The festival is observed specially by the Newar Community.
Family members of those who died during the year offer fruits, bread, beaten rice, curd and money to those participating in the procession, including the cows.As the saying goes, the festival derives its name from the religious belief that the deceased, during their journey to heaven, cross a legendary river by holding onto the tail of a cow.
This festival is believed to have started during the reign of King Pratap Malla, who, in a bid to console his queen, much aggrieved at the death of her son ‘Chakrawartendra’ in a smallpox epidemic, ordered his people to organize humour and satire programmes in various comic postures.
This tradition has been continued in the form of the Gaijatra festival during which people also give vent to pent-up feelings towards social and political anomalies, human follies and other contemporary affairs through comic skits, cartoons and the like.
Newspapers and magazines also brought out special humour satire supplements to mark the Festival. The government has announced the public holiday in Kathmandu Valley, marking the Festival today.
The Festival is also popular as an occasion of making satires on social and political misconducts in the society.
According to culture expert Milan Shakya, the Festival by which King Pratap Malla had started keeping the record of deaths was later developed into a cultural festival. RSS