Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts
Showing posts with label festival. Show all posts

Jan 29, 2016

Gai Jatra

Gai Yatra means "festival of the cows"in Nepali.

It is held in the fortnight of Gunla in the Nepalese month of Badra which usually falls between August and September. The festival commemorates the dead of the previous year. This Gai Jatra took place on August 30th, 2015.

What do cows have to do with recently deceased folks, you ask? 
Well, in Hinduism the cow is a holy animal who can help lead the deceased on their long journey to heaven, or perhaps a more fortuitous next life. 

The Gai Jatra has it's roots in the ancient Nepali worship of Yamaraj, the feared god of death. Ancient participants in the Gai Jatra would lead a cow through the streets in a very somber procession to aid a deceased relative. It is said that the medieval King Pratap Malla of Nepal changed the melancholy tone of the festival when his son died. His queen was quite grief stricken over the death of her son. The king promised a great reward for anyone who could make the queen laugh again. When the Gai Jatra procession came before the queen the participants began lampooning and ridiculing the members of the court, eventually the queen could not help but laugh. So buffoonery, silly songs, and jokes have become a tradition in this festival of commemorating the dead. Gai Jatra reminds living souls of the inevitability of death as well as aiding dear departed relatives on their journey to a "good life after death" in the Hindu sense.

Usually there are cows in the procession, or at least a boy dressed as a cow complete with horns and tail made of rice straw. No cows nor cow substitutes were in attendance at this Gai Jatra despite the heavy death toll of the two earthquakes here earlier this year. There were plenty of angels, clowns, devils, small marching band,  and a goddess incarnate or two though.


Gai Yatra
Looking quite celestial, dear angels!

Gai yatra
Oh my. It would seem we have some archangels here and perhaps a even goddess incarnate in the middle. (You can tell by the "fire eye" on the forehead of the supernatural presence with the poinsettia on her head that she's a goddess. She might even be an incarnation of Telegu, the famous living goddess who has her tiny palace in Kathmandu! )
Nepali festival
This angel doesn't seem to like it's picture being taken.
I suppose angels come in all sorts too.
Nepali festival
Some rather glamorous angels in every hue.
Nepal Gai Yatra
This angel had peacock feather wings.
 I think the rose in her hair is a much better choice than those tedious halos, don't you?

Gai Jatraa festival
A clown who looks like he's just come from a Grateful Dead concert at the Shoreline Amphitheater.
This angel looks likes she's had enough clowning around, as well as monsoon heat & humidity.
Jai Nepal!
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