Gai Jatra (gai means cow in Nepali) is a famous festival in Nepal. During the Malla dynasty around 150 years ago there was a king called Pratap Malla of Bhaktapur. His son died and his wife was in mourning. To help his wife to overcome this sorrow, Pratap Malla created the Gai Jatra festival to celebrate death. He told all the people in his Bhaktapur Kingdom to have a festival in the name of dead family member. His main motive was to show his wife that it was not just his family suffering but many others in the country. For Gai Jatra, King Pratap Malla ordered each household to decorate a chariot with pictures and the belongings of the dead and this is how the fest started.
In this festival people decorate a small chariot similar to the one used for the Bisket festival. In the chariot they put the photo of the one who has passed, they carry this structure and walk around the street singing and playing “Ghintan Ghisi Twak”. Their walking and singing in a procession is eye-catching. This fest was initiated in the Kingdom of Bhaktapur during Malla’s reign, but nowadays it is celebrated all over the world by many different religions and races. Mongolian people drink and have more fun when they are celebrating this fest. But the celebration in the Bhaktapur and Newar communities is beautiful and it’s great to spent time there.
One great thing about Bhaktapur Gai Jatra is that they celebrate during the night till midnight. Gai means cow and Jatra means fest. But in Nepali society this term Gai Jatra is also used for some other general celebrations. Gai Jatra allows people to celebrate the lives of departed family members with respect and to have fun remembering them. You would definitely enjoy this festival which normally occurs in mid-July. Come and share your joy with us. If you want an organized tour for this festival, we can assist you for sure.