Nepal Festival “Gai Jatra”

local folks dressed up for festival gai jatra
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Gai means cow in Nepali, Festival Gai Jatra is a famous festival in Nepal celebrated in mid-July.

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Gai jatra in remote hills of Nepal is different than in Kathmandu or Bhaktapur.

Story behind Why is Gai Jatra celebrated?

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 or cow with pictures and the belongings of the dead and this is how the fest started.

Gai Jatra, is a festival celebrated in Nepal, mainly by Newar community all over Nepal. The festival is generally celebrated in the month of Bhadra. The date is set according to the lunar Nepali calendar.

How Gai Jatra is celebrated?

In this festival people decorate a small chariot or cow similarly to the one used for the Bisket festival. In the chariot or cow they put the photo of the one who has passed, they carry the chariot or guide the cow and walk around the street singing and playing “Ghintan Ghisi Twak”.

Thus, Gai Jatra is a festival of dancing, singing in a crowd of laughter. The festival dead is celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley and most of the Newar settlement all around Nepal to commemorate the death of loved ones.

Their walking and singing in a procession is eye-catching. This fest was initiated in the Kingdom of Bhaktapur during Malla’s regime, but nowadays it is celebrated all over Nepal by Newar community majorly.

People drink and have more fun when they are celebrating this fest. But the celebration in Bhaktapur and Newar communities is beautiful and it’s great to spent time there.

Bhaktapur Gai Jatra is famous for a reason

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 fun and protest against corrupt government (on stage).

Gai Jatra allows people to celebrate the lives of departed family members with respect and to love & remember them in a joy.

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.

About Author

I grew up in the mountains & got university education in Kathmandu to become an engineer. But with homely environment of mountains interest me to become a trekking & tour guide, by passion. I have been 6574 meter to the highest & fortunately got chance to explore most of Nepal and bit of abroad.

Eventually, passion converted to profession and here i am on behalf of Nepalgram - a Trekking agency in Nepal.

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