Gai Jatra is a public holiday and annual festival in Nepal. It comes in the month of Bhadra on the Nepali Calendar but falls sometime in August or September on the Gregorian Calendar.
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Note: Gai Jatra is observed in Kathmandu valley only.
Gai Jatra easily ranks high as one of the most popular of all Nepal’s festivals. It is connected with the worship of Yamaraj, considered the god of death. But oddly enough, it is also a time of comedy and, of all things, an annual cow parade.
While Gai Jatra has been celebrated in Nepal since ancient times, the modern version of it dates from Medieval times. A king Pratap Malla had recently lost his young son, and his wife was deeply saddened. After her misery continued for some time and no one could cheer her, the king announced that whoever could make the queen laugh or smile would be greatly rewarded.
A cow parade, along with dancers and costumed comedians ultimately got the queen to smile. From then on, an annual cow procession became traditional for Gai Jatra.
Comedy acts, parodies, dramas, TV and radio specials, and special cartoon editions of local newspapers are also Gai Jatra traditions.