Bhaktapur, Aug. 30: The traditional festival of Gaijatra or the ‘cow festival’ that continues for a week in Bhaktapur district has started last night from Talejusthan after making Tahamacha and encircling the major part of Bhaktapur Durbar Square.
The Gaijatra has started from early morning today after the demise of 234 from Newar community in Bhaktapur. 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 bereaved families 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, crosses a legendary river by grabbing the tail of a cow.
The Gaijatra observed in Bhaktapur is considered more special, entertaining and satiric compared to other cities. On the day of GaiJatra, families who have lost the member during the past year parade a decorated cow around the city. Others dress up kids as cows or ascetics & walk in procession. The animal is believed to help departed souls in their journey into the after-world. In Kathmandu, the bereaved families process proceed along the festival route individually. In Patan, the participants gather at Dubar Square and then move out together.
This festival was started to be celebrated from the period of Pratap Malla’s rule who is the builder of Rani Pokhari in Kathmandu. He organized this festival to make his Queen happy, who had lost her beloved younger son. The King wanted to show the Queen that she is not only the one who had lost her beloved son but there are many others like her.