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Gai Jatra - Cow festival in Nepal

  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Friday May 11, 2018
gai-jatra

Gai Jatra is celebrated in Kathmandu to commemorate the death of loved ones by the family. It is a street festival filled with joy and laughter. ‘Gai’ means cow in Nepali. The bovine is sacred to Hindus and it is believed that cows help the dead to reach heaven. This festival which falls in July or August, is celebrated is to find comfort in the knowledge that everybody loses a loved one to death.

There is a very interesting story as to how and why this festival started. During the reign of Pratap Malla (1641-1674), there was an unfortunate death of the king’s second eldest son-Chakrabartendra. The mother of Chakrabartendra, fell into a deep depression following the death of her favorite son. The sadness was so deep that she spent the days wallowing in her misery. Pratap Malla loved his queen dearly and couldn’t bear to see her in such a miserable state. He brought the best entertainers to the court in an attempt to better the mood of his beloved queen but all effort fell in vain. Nobody could make her smile, let alone make her laugh.

In desperation, the king asked his subjects to organize a parade in which one member of every family that had lost a beloved one would take part. He ordered everybody to dress in a crazy costume and drag a cow along behind them. People, who couldn’t bring a cow, brought a child dressed up as a cow.

The king allowed all sorts of buffoonery and everybody was allowed to make fun of each other. Jokes were made on the existing social norms and even the rich and powerful were not spared from being made fun at. The parade was made to pass along the main gates of the royal palace, from where the king and queen could watch the parade.

When the parade drew near the palace gates, the king pointed out to his queen that every participant in the parade had lost a loved one, yet they were here celebrating their memory by having a good time. The queen finally realized that she was not the only one aggrieved by her loss, many others were too. Yet they were out on the streets, dressed in comical outfits, cracking jokes and laughing till their stomach hurt. Watching the merriment, the queen finally smiled and thus the festival stuck on.

Today the very popular Gai Jatra is celebrated with much pomp and show. In Kathmandu Durbar Square, along with the usual procession of people celebrating the life of their dead relatives, gay pride parade is held. Stand-up comedians take to the stage and ridicule the government and administration. News publications run satires and parodies. It is a day filled with laughter and mirth. 


  • Author: Naba Raj Amgai
  • Posted on: Friday May 11, 2018
Naba Raj

About Author - Naba Raj Amgai

Naba Raj Amgai, stepped into the world of travel and tourism in 1996. He is Founder and Managing Director of Third Rock Adventures.

Beginning his journey in the tourism industry as a humble Porter Guide to founding hospitality establishments and an adventure travel company, he has come a long way.

In a career spanning more than two decades, he has achieved more than anybody dreams of achieving. Along with his professional achievements, his selfless contribution towards his community and society has won him a lot of accolades and praises.

Having dedicated more than two decades in the tourism and hospitality sector, he has amassed a wealth of experience.

After passing high school, he began helping out some trekking guides and was soon recruited as a porter guide at a reputed trekking agency. Within a short time, he was individually guiding clients across the well-known trails of the Himalayas.

He went on to lead tour groups on multi-country tours to Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and India. Being a part of mountain climbing expeditions familiarised him with expedition logistics and operations. Later on, he went to become the Executive Director and took over the reins of Operations, Sales and Marketing departments. Spending several years in the tourism field has made Naba Raj Amgai a destination expert.

Travelling is his passion and he has been to many countries across the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Holland, Germany, Austria and many parts of Asia.

His journeys to different parts of the world have enriched his travel experience and knowledge. This experience has been instrumental in planning and organizing successful trips for several clients.

As of today many reputed travel companies, hotels and restaurants are under his leadership. A dynamic and proactive leader, he continues to inspire and motivate people from all walks of life.

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