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Decorations of Gaijatra
|Also called||Sa Paru|
|Observances||Ralley of Cow|
|Date||First day (Pratipada) of the month of Bhadra month of the Lunar calendar|
|2016 date||3 August|
|Part of a series on|
Gai Jatra, the festival of cows, (gai means holy cow and jatra means festival in Nepali: गाई जात्रा, and Nepal Bhasa: सा पारु) is celebrated in Nepal, mainly in Kathmandu valley by the Newar and Tharu community. The festival commemorates the death of people during the year. During the festival, cows are marched in the streets and generally celebrated in themonth of Bhadra (August–September). It falls on the 1st day of the dark fortnight of Gunla according to the lunar Nepal Era calendar. Peoples also distributes food to others. The festival of cows is one of the most popular festivals of Nepal.It is celebrated to remove the sadness of death of their family members.
Kathmandu is considered to be the main source of this festival as the king who started this festival was of this city. After the show presented to the queen was a success, it became an annual program to present the queen with this festival. As time passed on and as the kings and the queens passed on the festival has been passed on from generation to generation. In main Kathmandu, people celebrate it with much happiness and many programs than those on Patan. If a father had died the previous year then the elder son dresses up like a cow and goes around the city, and if the mother had died then it is the duty of the younger son to go around the city dressed up like a cow. The procession is now not that of joke, satire or mockery but has become a serious but enjoyable event that will help their beloved ones to rest in peace. The procession goes around the city to different parts of the suburbs and the inner urban areas to present the devotion to their loved ones. The people involved in this procession get small packets with fruits, sweets, oats and other food items to help them in their tour around the city, by many people watching the festival and by their loved ones.
Patan has a similar kind of following for this festival like that with Kathmandu, but has less involvement of people than that on Kathmandu. People in Lalitpur have another festival similar to Gaijatra called Matayaa which is followed with much more devotion and much more involvement by the people. The involvements of people in this Matayaa can be in thousands. Thus for people in lalitpur(patan) the procession of Gaijatra is less entertained.
The center of Gaijatra in Kirtipur falls in a part of the kirtipur city known as Paanga. The people in kirtipur celebrating have many reasons to celebrate this festival and have a unique way of celebrating this festival. Among the people of kirtipur it is said that the gates of heaven for the dead are opened in this day, and the procession of Gaijatra will help their beloved to reach the gates of heaven if they march around the city for them. They march around the city of Kirtipur with not dressing up like cows but rather dressed up in different forms of gods and goddesses. People celebrate this festival not only for their dead relatives but also for peace and harmony among the family members and the city itself.
During this month the farmers of the city finish up their work in the fields and return home to celebrate the ending of the hard and tedious work in the fields. They gather the family members and have a feast of their success. This culture is replicated in this festival in Kirtipur. Men dress up like women and travel around the city. They go from house to house calling up the owners of the house and asking them to come down and join in the feast with them. This helps to create harmony among the neighbors and the city members. Kirtipur performs many dances with different imitating artists that provide much of an awe and a happiness among the people. Kirtipur is enriched with many beliefs and many stories relating Gaijatra than any other cities of the valley and has a more diverse celebration of this festival.
Bhaktapur is said to have the most enjoyable and exciting Gai Jatra, as it has its own peculiarities in the ways the festival is celebrated as compared to Kathmandu and Lalitpur. A chariot (known as taha macha) made of bamboo wrapped in cloth, with a photo of the dead person hung in the centre, is taken out into the street by the family, and is taken round town. So a long parade of chariots is seen.
The Taha Macha symbolize dead people and is decorated with their possessions and photograph. The chariot has a frameworked of bamboo which is wrapped with cotton cloth usually hakupatasi. The taha machas are brought out from different toles of Bhaktapur, but peculiarly, the taha machas of Taumadhi Square are guided by one large one that has the bamboo framework, but is covered in straws. This is known as bhailya dya.
Many local musicians, and a cultural dance calledGhinta Ghisi follow in the wake of a chariot. Men are also seen wearing women's dress: Hakupatasi. People dress up funnily. There is face painting and masks are common. Children even dress up as gods, and join the parade.
The Ghinta Ghisi dance is celebrated for almost a week, starting from the day of Gaijatra to Krishna astami. The dance is done in a long queue. with two persons in a row hitting each other's sticks. Many cultural shows are performed, and the festival is even participated in by many nearby villages.
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