Gai Jatra – Celebrating Love and Loss on 17th August

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Gai Jatra – A Unique Nepali Festival Celebrating Love and Loss

Gai Jatra, also known as the Festival of Cows, is a popular festival celebrated in Nepal on 17th August every year. It is a unique festival that combines both mourning and celebration of life. The festival is mainly celebrated in Kathmandu Valley by the Newar community, but it is also observed in other parts of the country.

The history of Gai Jatra dates back to the 16th century during the reign of King Pratap Malla. It is said that the king was grief-stricken by the death of his son and queen, and his wife remained inconsolable. In order to bring her out of her depression, the king ordered all the families who had lost a loved one within the year to participate in a procession around the city with a cow leading the way.

This tradition continues till today, with families who have lost a loved one during the year participating in the procession to remember and honor their loved ones. The festival is also associated with the Hindu belief of helping the deceased reach heaven, as cows are believed to be the embodiment of the ‘goddess’ who guides the soul to heaven.

The festival is not only a time to mourn the loss of loved ones, but also a time to celebrate life and the eternal cycle of birth and death. It is a day when families come together to share their grief and joy, and also to remember and cherish their loved ones who have passed away.

The festival is characterized by colorful processions, music, dance, and laughter. People dress up in their best traditional attires and paint their faces with colorful patterns. The procession is led by a cow, decorated with garlands, and accompanied by performers and dancers. It is a sight to behold as the procession winds its way through the streets of Kathmandu with much fanfare.

One of the highlights of Gai Jatra is the procession of the ‘Lakhe’ dance. The Lakhe is a mythical creature in Nepali folklore, and the dance is believed to ward off evil spirits and bring good luck to the community. The procession also includes various other traditional dance performances and plays that depict the life of deceased loved ones.

As the day ends, families gather to share a grand feast and exchange stories and memories of their loved ones. It is a time for healing and coming to terms with loss, as well as a reminder to cherish and live life to the fullest.

In recent years, the festival has also become a platform to address social issues and raise awareness on various causes. The festival has been used to promote gender equality, highlight LGBTQ+ rights, and raise awareness on environmental conservation and climate change.

With its unique blend of traditions, culture, and contemporary social issues, Gai Jatra has become an important festival in Nepal, celebrated by people of all backgrounds and beliefs.

Gai Jatra, also known as the Festival of Cows, is a popular festival celebrated in Nepal on 17th August every year.

The festival is mainly celebrated in Kathmandu Valley by the Newar community, but it is also observed in other parts of the country.

The festival is not only a time to mourn the loss of loved ones, but also a time to celebrate life and the eternal cycle of birth and death.

One of the highlights of Gai Jatra is the procession of the ‘Lakhe’ dance, a mythical creature in Nepali folklore believed to ward off evil spirits.

As the day ends, families gather to share a grand feast and exchange stories and memories of their loved ones.

In recent years, the festival has also become a platform to address social issues and raise awareness on various causes.

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