Only in Nepal…

..would you be late for work because you sat in a traffic jam caused by a procession of young boys dressed up as cows

…and then arrive at the office to find that hardly anyone is there anyway because it’s a public holiday.

This was all in aid of Gai Jatra, ‘festival of cows’, celebrated mainly by the Newar community. Legend has it that a Malla King got his subjects to parade through the street dressed as cows in order to make his wife, in lengthy mourning for the death of their son, laugh again.

Tradition dictates that every family that has lost someone over the past year must parade through the streets leading a cow. If no cow is available, there is a simple solution: dress one of the kids up as one.

Gai Jatra is a light-hearted festival where people make jokes and tell stories. The people blocking my way yesterday morning seemed like they were having a lot of fun, even those parading photographs of relatives who had died over the past year. This seems like a very healthy festival to me; acknowledging the realities of death and loss, affirming hope in an afterlife and having a day of stories and silliness with friends and family.

We lost someone over the past year – not a relative exactly, but as good as. I was thinking about her when I was stuck in that traffic jam and had a feeling that she would approve of the sentiment behind Gai Jatra


One Response to “Only in Nepal…”

  1. Who says London has everything life has to offer? There has never been a cow festival here to my knowledge. This is why I want to live in Nepal.

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