Friday, August 3, 2012

The festival of cows, sans cows

When I heard about Gai Jaitra, which literally means "cow festival," I just assumed that cows would be there. So when I went to Bhaktapur for said festival today and didn't see a single cow, I was a bit confused. Where were all the cows? I mean, there's only a bajillion of them roaming the streets of Kathmandu, usually in the middle of a busy highway, so why weren't they here for their big day?

I'm still a little puzzled by this, but what I can tell you is that Gai Jatra is kind of like a Dia de los Muertos for Nepal. It's a day when family members can honor loved ones who have died in the past year, and they celebrate to help move past mourning. Young boys often dress up like cows, and my good friend Krishna tells me that it symbolizes the Hindu belief that people who die are guided to heaven through a cow's tail. 

Cows or no cows, it was still a pretty cool festival. As a foreigner, I can't tell you what any of it meant, but photos can somewhat convey what the experience was like.

Furry people dancing and tumbling and what not 

 Breakdancin' furry people

Entering Bhaktapur

Durbar Square

Dancing with sticks

Photos of the deceased

Cute baby face. I also asked another woman if I could take a picture of her baby, and she said yes, and it's adorable, but I can't figure out how to get it from my phone to the internet. Sad face :( 

I wasn't judging this guy for wearing a sari. However, I was judging his outfit choice 
of a ball cap and sneakers. Big fashion no-no. 

Today was also a successful shopping day because I got a pretty cool souvenir for my dad, who was difficult to buy for because they don't sell anything science-y or guitar-related in Nepali shops. The only things that come close to guitars are these god-awful fiddle things that every salesman and his brother tries to sell you in Thamel. "You want something??" NO. "I make good price." NO. "1,000 rupees." NOOOOOOO.

Also, I bought the umpteenth useless souvenir for my boyfriend. I bet he can hardly wait for me to bestow these gifts upon him! 

Tomorrow I'm meeting with a Nepali woman who manages a radio station with all-female employees to chat about women's rights in the country, so I'll likely have a blog post about that. 

Then I'm going to see a Nepali movie and, of course, party hardy until 2 am (closing time for the handful of clubs in all of Nepal that are open past midnight) because it's a Saturday night and, well, why not? 

Also, I only have two weeks left. Is this real life?? I don't want to think about it. I refuse.


  1. Your post makes me wonder how traditions get started...Heaven through a cow's tail? I see no connection. Looking at the furry dancers does help explain the legend of sasquatch though :) Go easy on the yak beer. Love you!

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