Thursday, August 18, 2011

Gai Jatra (Cow Festival) In Bhaktapur

In Bhaktapur Durbar Square
Gai Jatra, one of the oldest festival is celebrated by the Newar community is believed to have initiated by the Malla Kings which is celebrated every year to bring joy and happiness to the people who suffer from grief from the death of the close relatives, also it is believed the soul would rest in peace. In Bhaktapur it was started by King Jayasthiti Malla where as King Pratap Malla started it in Kathmandu. This festival is celebrated for 8 days beginning from shrawan shukla pratipdaa.

Entrance of Bhaktapur Durbar Square
At 55 windows Durbar
This festival is quite different in Bhaktapur than in a way it is celebrated in Kathmandu. The dance ghintang ghisee, the ancient musical instruments and the picture of a demise person that is clinged on the long bamboo decorated with various stuff and carried by four person. The sequence of the group celebrating this festival is such that in the front there are dancers followed by the insturment players (these days new instruments have also come into played like in marriage) and at the end there are people carrying the pictures on the long bamboo. This is what makes it quite unique from Kathmandu.

ghinee twang - ghinee twang
ghintang ghisee twang

Foreigners in ghintang ghisee rhythm
This is the rhythm that is followed in the festival. When this rhythm is reached at twang the participants hit each other stick to sound twaakaa. The rhythm is very melodious when the large number of participants dance and hit the each other stick. It's quite easy to learn and that is why some of the foreigners were seen dancing ghintang ghisee.

Kids playing in ghintang ghisee
One of the interesting thing that could be noticed in the recent Gai Jatras is the number of girls participating in the festival which otherwise they have to sit around the home and just watch. In the last 2-3 years such participants have increased tremendously breaking the old traditional myth which states girls should be allowed to participate. The boys who are decorated as girls now have decreased after the increased participants of girls. However the glamor of the festival have increased by the girls and boys participation who dance along the rhythm.

At Kathmandu Durbar Square

At Kathmandu Durbar Square
In Kathmandu, the kids (boys) are dressed and decorated in a way that looks humorous sometimes by making them dressed like cow or girl. Some of the adult also participate in this festival who are decorated as jogis, beggar, mad person or anything that makes people laugh or just give a kind of statement that adds humor. During the festival the people revolve around mainly in the inner Kathmandu. The participants are given food, chocolates, biscuits, water, milk etc. by the visitors that makes this festival more entertaining. Likewise in Bhaktapur, Kathmandu also observed the increased participants of girls.

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