Gayatra, or “Cow Festival,” is celebrated in three towns in the Kathmandu Valley from today. The Cow Festival is celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley to commemorate the death of a loved one. It is a festival full of dancing, singing, joy and laughter.
According to the lunar calendar, the festival begins on the first day of the waxing moon of Bhadra Pratiprada and lasts for a week. As part of this time-honored tradition, people of all ages disguise themselves as cows and madmen and walk around town in strange costumes to honor the dead of the past year. The families of the dead offer fruit, bread, whipped rice, tofu and money to those who participate in the parade, including the cows.
The festival is said to have begun during the time of King Pratap Mara, who, in order to console his queen and mourn the death of his son during the smallpox epidemic, ordered his men to organize humorous and satirical programs in various comical poses. This tradition continues in the form of the Gayjatra festival, during which people also express their feelings about social and political anomalies, human insanity and other contemporary events through comic skits, cartoons and other forms.
The government has declared this day as a public holiday in the Kathmandu Valley. Apart from the valley, the festival is also celebrated in Banep, Dhulikhel, Trishuli, Dolakha, Hotang, Bhojpur, Chainpur, Ilam, Dharam, Biratnagar, Birganj, Bahabis, Hetauda and Pokhara.