A procession taken out on the occasion of Gaijatra in Kathmandu. (File photo/Khabarhub)
KATHMANDU: The traditional festival of Gaijatra or the ‘cow festival’ is being observed starting today in three cities of Kathmandu Valley and some other places in the country.
The festival, beginning on the first day of the waning moon in the month of Bhadra (Bhadra Pratiprada) as per the lunar calendar, lasts for a week.
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.
This festival is believed to have started during the time of King Pratap Malla, who, in a bid to console his queen, much grieved at the death of her son in a smallpox epidemic, ordered his people to organize humor and satire program in various comic postures.
This tradition remained continued in the form of the Gaijatra festival during which people also vent out their feelings towards social and political anomalies, human follies and other contemporary affairs through comic skits, cartoons and the like.
The government has announced a public holiday in Kathmandu Valley on this day. Apart from the Valley, the festival is also observed in Banepa, Dhulikhel, Trishuli, Dolakha, Khotang, Bhojpur, Chainpur, Ilam, Dharan, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Bahrabise, Hetauda and Pokhara.