Gai Jatra is one of the most celebrated festival in Nepal. This festival commemorates the death of people during the year and is generally celebrated in the month of Bhadra (Hindu calendar) (August–September). This festival is mainly celebrated by the people of Newar community. It is celebrated to diminish the sadness from the death of family members. During the festival, cows are marched in the streets. This festival is also called Sa Paru. Gai Jatra is celebrated in different cities but mainly it is celebrated in Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan, Kirtipur. In this festival people dress as different deities and dance in procession of Gai Jatra. Kathmandu city has been considered as the main source of Gai Jatra. Gai Jatra has both historical and cultural importance in the country.
There are many beliefs about the origin of Gai Jatra, some of them are:
The whole complex of the Gai Jatra festival has roots in the ancient ages when people feared and worshiped Lord Yamraj (The God of death). The ironic sessions that synonyms with Gai Jatra festival entered the tradition in the medieval period of Nepal at the time of Malla Kings.
According to the traditions, every family who has lost one relative during the past year must participate in a procession through the streets leading a cow. If a cow is unavailable a young boy dress as a cow is considered as a fair substitution.
In Hinduism , a cow is regarded as the most venerated animal among all the other animal. The cow has been reserved as a Holy animal by the people following Hinduism. And there is a believe that the cow will help the deceased relatives journey to te heaven.
According to the Historical Evidence, When the son of King Pratap Malla died the queen was in a huge shock and remained grief-stricken. By seeing the queen in that condition the king was very sad, after several efforts also he was not able to convince her that one who is born has to die someday death is a natural process. Then to show that death is a natural process he called all the people for a carnival if someone have died in their family. Many people came in the procession and made the queen realised that it was not only her son that died somebody has died in every family in this festival.