The ‘Festival of Cows’
The Cow Festival, known as Gai Jatra in the local language, is a special festival celebrated by Newar people, particularly in the Kathmandu Valley, to commemorate the death of loved ones…
It is a colourful and lively festival of dancing, singing and laughter. As part of the festival, family members who have lost loved ones in the last year, send people, mostly children, dressed as cows to parade on the streets. The festival usually falls in July or August.
The origin of this celebration goes back to the reign of the Malla rulers. Legend says that the Malla queen was in mourning for a long time after the untimely death of her son. The king needed her to understand that she was not the only one to suffer like this, so he asked every family that had lost a loved one to come out in a procession. In this way the queen understood that there were many other families suffering from the loss of a loved one. That is why, these days, there is so much joy and joking during the procession as it makes its way through the streets.
Gai Jatra is a time to remember lost ones and also to ease the pain. The word “Gai” means cow in English. The cow is regarded as the goddess of wealth in the Hindu religion. Sharing sorrow and taking comfort in knowing that their lost ones are safe is the true reason for celebrating this festival.