The centuries old Gaijatra or Saparu (in Newari) festival was observed in the three cities of the Kathmandu Valley and some other parts of the country on Monday.
Considering the risk of COVID-19 infection, District Administration Office, Kathmandu, had appealed to the general public to celebrate Janaipurnima, Gaijatra and other festivals in a symbolic manner without making crowds.
Similarly, Dakshinkali Municipality also decided to celebrate this year’s Saparu festival only to meet the formalities. Issuing a statement, the municipality had requested its citizens to celebrate the cultural exhibitions in Saparu only in a symbolic manner. The other municipalities had also urged people to only observe the major ceremony adopting health safety protocols. Saparu festival is especially celebrated by the local Newar communities in Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts.
The festival begins on the first day of the waxing moon in the month of Shrawan or Bhadra as per the lunar calendar and lasts for a week. During this period, people of all ages in the guise of cows and lunatics go around the city, wearing odd costumes to commemorate those who died during the past one year. The bereaved families offer fruits, bread, beaten rice, curd and money to those participating in the procession. The festival is believed to have originated during the reign of King Pratap Malla, in a bid to console his queen much grieved at the death of her son who had died untimely. He ordered his people to organise humour and satire rallies in various comic postures. The festival has been in practice in the form of the Gaijatra during which people also give vent to pent up feelings towards social and political anomalies, human follies and other contemporary affairs through comic skits and cartoons.