Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra
Gai Jatra is a festival celebrated in honour of family members who passed away during the year or the year before. Families that lost a loved one during the year or previous year, bring out some of their children dressed up to represent cows. These children visit temples around the city where they are given food. Cows are held sacred by Hindus and are believed to be the reincarnation of Goddess Laxmi, the Goddess of wealth; hence feeding a cow is seen as auspicious. Some families take along a real cow. For onlookers, this is entertainment as they watch the procession of cows followed by people dressed in funny outfits, masked dancers and musicians. It is celebrated all over the valley, but the festivities in Bhakrapur are far more elaborate as the festival carries on for eight days. It was during the reign of King Jaya Prakash Malla, that the festival was born. When the royal couple lost their son, the Queen went into a deep depression, mourning endlessly. She could not come to terms with it and became weaker as her misery worsened. In order to console her, the King came up with the idea of showing her that she was not the only one who had lost a loved one. He commanded his subjects to start a procession to honour all the dead, and to worship Yamaraj, the God of death, who would thus take care of the departed souls. Thus the festival was born /19/