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Gaijatra festival being observed today

Gorkha Post

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KATHMANDU — The traditional festival of Gaijatra , also known as cow festival, is being observed on Monday in the three cities of Kathmandu Valley and some other places in the country amidst the fun, gaiety, humor, satire, and entertainment.

The festival, beginning on the first day of the waning moon in the month of Bhadra as per the lunar calendar, lasts for a week.

During this time-honored tradition, family members of people who had died in the past one year take out a rally dressed in the attire of a cow, wearing strange costumes with peculiar appearance to commemorate the deceased.

The bereaved families offer fruits, bread, beaten rice, curd and money to those participating in the procession including the cows.

The festival is celebrated mainly by the Newar communities in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur and Lalitpur districts organising dance, drama and different satire related programmes.

Apart from Kathmandu Valley, the festival is also observed in Banepa, Dhulikhel, Trishuli, Dolakha, Khotang, Bhojpur, Chainpur, Ilam, Dharan, Biratnagar, Birgunj, Hetauda and Pokhara.

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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.

People throng in and around different parts of the Kathmandu Valley to mark the festival.

This festival is believed to have started during the reign 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 humour and satire programmes in various comic postures.

He wanted to show the pain of others to his wife then he made the arrangements of showing such grief fair to share the pain.

The day is a public holiday in Kathmandu Valley.

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Indra Jatra begins

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KATHMANDU — Indra Jatra, known as the biggest festival of the Kathmandu Valley, formally began on Friday with the erection of a wooden ceremonial pole (lingo) and the fluttering of a flag named after the Hindu God Indra at Hanumandhoka.

Indra Jatra, one of the biggest festivals of the Newar community, is dedicated to the god of rain and king of heaven, Indra and celebrated for eight days.

The festival formally begins with the erection of a lingo (sacred wooden pole) at Hanumandhoka in Basantapur Darbar Square.

During the celebrations, Lakhe dances are performed on the streets of Kathmandu. The dance is one of the most popular dances of Nepal with performers wearing Lakhe costume and masks.

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There are various mythical stories related to the festival. One such popular story is about Indra who came down to earth to get a special flower parijat and Karkalo (taro) for his mother, who was fasting and worshiping Goddess Basundharadevi.

Upon landing in the Kathmandu Valley, Indra is said to have intruded into a garden to pluck the special flower for his mother. But when the the garden owner found this out, he used Tantrik powers to capture Indra and tied him with ropes in public for humiliation.

Knowing her son is tied up, Indra’s mother came down to the earth and promised the garden owner that she’d provide rain for a better harvest in return for her son.

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