Gai jatra festival is a unique Nepali cultural event that is celebrated in August especially in Kathmandu Valley primarily by Newar community. Literally Gai Jatra, the festival of cows (Gai means cow and jatra means festival or cultural event) is celebrated every year in 1st day of the dark fortnight of Gunla according to the lunar Nepal Era calendar and this year it is in Bhadra 3, 2073 ie August 19, 2016. In Nepal Bhasa, it is also known as Sa Paru that the festival commemorates the death of people during the year.
During the festival, the event is processed by either leading a cow or young boys having dressed as cow. In Hinduism, a cow is regarded as the most venerated among all the domestic animals. The cow is believed to be instrumental in guaranteeing the dead a place in heaven, as the dead cross the Baitarni river in the afterlife by holding onto the tail of a cow. These days, boys dress up as a host of characters, including deities like Shiva and Krishna, and not just cows.
The festival was started in the 17th century by King Pratap Malla of Kathmandu to make his wife happy and laugh as she was bereaved by the death of her son. When she saw the costumes and celebration, she started smiling for the first time since her son’s death since then every year on the 1st day of the dark fortnight, the festival is celebrated as the Gai Jatra in Nepal. The people of Kathmandu, Patan, Bhaktapur and Kirtipur observe this festival every year with the great significance.