Costumes of the Gai Jatra festival

In August every year a big festival is held here in Nepal called "cow festival" or Gai Jatra. If you watch its celebration you would not guess what is its real meaning. The atmosphere is very joyful and carnival-like. Yet during the day the homage is paid to cows and to those who passed away during the year. It is believed that a person who dies of natural death go straight to the court of Yama, the God of Death. He decides at what level the souls shall be reincarnated again on earth. The judgment gates are opened only once each year, at the day of Gai Jatra.

The route to Yama's gates may be very difficult, leading through rivers of fire. A sacred cow may guide and protect the wandering spirit of the dead who had died during the previous year along this dangerous journey by allowing it to cling to her tail. The cow is also able to push open one of the doors with her horns and assist the soul to enter the judgment.

So at the day of Gai Jatra every family that has lost its member during the previous year must honour the soul of their dead by taking part in a religious procession through the streets. The Gai Jatra procession consists of a live decorated cow or a young boy gorgeously costumed to represent one, together with the family priest, a troupe of musicians and a small boy in disguise of a yogi, a holy man. Each parade starts on its own way to join hundreds of similar groups in one long procession past temples, idols and holy places.

Many people gather along the way to watch it. They give money, fruits or sweets to the costumed kids. Other children who don't represent a cow are often dressed to mimic different Hindu deities, most frequently the couple Shiva-Parvati or Rama-Sita or Krishna-Radha. As you can see on the photos many guys wore not just dresses but earrings and bracelets and used lipstick. I noticed that their nails too were painted. Some wore wigs as well.
To participate in this festival is considered a necessary part of the long sequence of rituals done after the death of any person.

Charming couple - Krishna and Radha

And here you can see Hanuman

Shiva and Parvati

I like the floral head decoration of this guy

Love the guy's necklace and hand decorations

One more event is held at this day - the Gay parade. But about it in my next post.

Similar posts Guys in disguise
Nepalese kids in traditional outfits
Festively dressed kids


  1. Gorgeous photos! What amazing costumes!

  2. Love this post!!! Beautiful photos and interesting to know about this festival. Costumes are beautiful too :)

  3. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  4. It ,s fascinating to see the costumes during gaijatra
    Lookin forward to your next post

  5. I Love festival culture!

    You are so lucky that you can capture beautifully for the moment like this. The little girl in red costume is so beautiful.
    Thanks for sharing,

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  7. Love that this culture takes the time to honor their dead with a parade. Lovely vibrant pictures.

    Barbara @ www.allmylivesnow.com