Gaijatra in Nepal in 2023

Gaijatra in Nepal in 2023
Image by socialtours nepal , via Flickr

  How long until Gaijatra?
  Dates of Gaijatra in Nepal
2024 Kathmandu Valley Tue, Aug 20 Regional Holiday
2023 Kathmandu Valley Fri, Sep 1 Regional Holiday
2022 Kathmandu Valley Sat, Aug 13 Regional Holiday
2021 Aug 23
Kathmandu ValleyMon, Aug 23Regional Holiday
Madhesh PradeshMon, Aug 23Regional Holiday
2020 Kathmandu Valley Tue, Aug 4 Regional Holiday

This is a Hindu festival that honours those who have died during the past year.

When is Gaijatra?

Gai Jatra, (which means 'cow festival' in Nepali) is a festival celebrated in the Kathmandu valley by the Newar community.

In 2021, it was declared as a public holiday to the entire Newar community living across Nepal

This Hindu festival commemorates those who have died during the year and is celebrated on the first day of the dark fortnight of the month of Bhadra, which means it usually falls in August or September. 

Traditions of Gaijatra

During Gaijatra it is a tradition that any family who has lost a relative during the last year participates in a procession through the streets of Kathmandu, leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable, then a young boy dressed as a cow is allowed.

In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most venerated of all the domestic animals. It is believed that the cow, will assist a deceased relative on their journey to heaven.

One story about the festival is when the 17th century King Pratap Malla lost his son, the queen was grief-stricken. To show his wife that death is a natural part of life, he called on his people to hold a carnival if someone has died in their family. Many people answered this call which helped the queen by showing that she was not alone in her grief and that all those who participated in the festival had also lost a loved one.

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