Gai Jatra - A Unique Festival from Nepal

Nepal is a rich country in historical and cultural diversity. Unique and Strange Festivals are celebrated in Nepal. Due to the geographical, and racial diversity, Nepali People are lucky enough to witness the different festivals and rituals.

Each ritual has a cultural and historical belief, and some even have scientific beliefs. People from different ethnic groups and races follow different tradition and cultures. But, everyone loves all the cultures and we can see active participation of the people from all the races and ethnicity.

Gai Jatra Nepal
Local People in Kathmandu Praparing for Gai Jatra

Gai Jatra is also one of the unique and strange festivals in Nepal. The Gai Jatra has some traditional rituals and historical beliefs. These kinds of festivals and rituals help in promoting tourism to the country and preserving the cultures. We’ve tried to collect every piece of information about the Gai Jatra Festival in Nepal for you.

What Is Gai Jatra?

Gai means the cow in the Nepali language. The cow is a national animal of Nepal, and there are many religious sentiments of Hindu people connected with the cow. Cows are worshipped by the Hindu community all over the world, especially in India. The god of death ‘Yamaraj’ is said to be worshipped on this very auspicious day.

Jatra refers to the fest and gatherings. People from different races in Nepal celebrate the Jatra. Jatra is usually famous in the capital Kathmandu and Bhaktapur of Nepal, where majorities of the casts are Newars. Jatra is a kind of festival, in which many people gather together and celebrate and worship the gods.

Jatra used to be celebrated from the ancient period as a symbol of unity and brotherhood among the people of the same or different communities. Newari people celebrate more than 50 Jatras each year. Jatras are celebrated by showing cultural dances, Lakhey(Male Demon Character), and eating unique types of foods and drinks.

How Did Gai Jatra Start?

The celebration of Gai Jatra dates back to the period of Malla rulers in Nepal. The Gai Jatra was started by King Pratap Malla. When King Pratap Malla lost his young son, the queen was deeply saddened by the demise and mourned. She couldn’t forget and come back from the trauma.

Seeing the condition of the queen, Pratap Malla decided to celebrate, Gai Jatra for making the queen forget her young son’s demise. The people dressed as cows and tried to comfort the queen from losing her young son. Then, the ritual started and later on evolved as a festival. Gai Jatra nowadays is celebrated by the people of other communities in Nepal. However, Gai Jara was supposed to be celebrated by the Newari People from Kathmandu and Bhaktapur initially.

Myths and Facts of Gai Jatra

There are a lot of myths and facts about Gai Jatra. The main reason to celebrate Gai Jatra is to commemorate the death of loved ones in the families. Gai Jatra is celebrated every year, but Gai Jatra starts from the home, where someone has died the year before. Later, other people join the parade.

It is believed that the souls of dead people are guided by the holy cows, and they don’t have to face any multiple rebirths after their demise. Popular Rani Pokari was also built at the same time as the start of the Gai Jatra Celebration. The celebration is for the memorial of the dead ones. In ancient days Gai Jatra used to be celebrated only in Kathmandu Valley, but nowadays, it is celebrated in almost all parts of the country.

How is Gai Jatra Celebrated?

GAI JATRA is celebrated in the days of the Bhadra. The month falls in the late monsoon in Nepal. Farmers after replanting the crops get time for themselves to mourn the demise of their loved ones before celebrating festivals like Dashain and Tihar.

Gai Jatra is even called a street festival. People gather in the streets and perform a parade. There are several ways Gai Jatra celebrations, according to the places and communities. In Bhaktapur Gai Jatra is celebrated for nearly 10 days. In Kathmandu, it is celebrated for 4-5 days. But, the actual Gai Jatra falls on only one day, which is the starting of the Jatra.

Gai Jatra
Gai Jatra (Source: S Pakhrin | WikiMedia Commons)

Gai Jatra was started in the Malla Period by the Procession of Cows, and parade in the street. Photos of demised people are carried by the cows. In case, there are no cows, children are dressed in unique and funny costumes, like cows, and are procession is done. Gi Jatra turns one’s sorrow into ritual and enjoying the festival. Gai Jatra nowadays includes humorous jokes and satires and Gai Jatra fests and many more.

Significance and Importance

Gai Jatra has connected the people of different communities. Many tourists visit the Kathmandu valley for observing the Gai Jatra rituals. The festival not only holds religious aspects but also depicts the historical and cultural aspects.

The festival shows the uniqueness of the countries. It helps in preserving the cultures of Newari People in Kathmandu Valley as well as Nepal. Gai Jatra festival does not encourage any evil or illegal activities. So, Gai Jatra is one of our national pride.

Newari people and even people from other communities are working to preserve the Gai Jatra culture in Nepal. We can see a lot of active participation of people in Gai Jatra. Kathmandu and Bhaktapur are the best places to observe Gai Jatra in Nepal. Gai Jatra Mela is organized on the occasion of Gai Jatra, which is a comedy show for 7-8 days, which is funny acts and dramas presentation.


Gai Jatra is not only a festival but also a symbol of national pride and culture. We have to increase our tourism through such unique and strange culture. Illegal and Bad activities mustn’t be promoted in the name of festivals, Melas and Jatraas. This was the article on the popular Gai Jatra festival, fest in Nepal.

Share this article and let others know about the unique Gai Jatra fests in Nepal. If you haven’t observed Gai Jatra, take your time to observe one around you. It will be a lifetime experience for you.