Gai Jatra: A Smile Through Tears
by AACISTA SINGH GURUNG
August 4th Saturday
August 4th Saturday
"Hello! Who's this?"
August 5th Sunday: Gai Jatra (Destination Basantapur)
But my sixth sense forbade me to come to a conclusion so soon. I thought "what if the commoners impeach me for not understanding?" In order to make the matter crystal clear, then and there I talked with some locals who without hesitation agreed to the decrement in the number of people in the jatra in recent years.
A passing thought - perhaps the mortality rate could have suddenly descended the epidemiological chart. But hey, do you believe that??? I certainly don't.
Under the prudent surveillance I noticed that almost all the spectators were intellectual people, craftsmen, devout supporters, inquisitive foreigners and of course our very own journalists. In this fiesta teenagers were hardly seen, I would say more like one in a million. For this profoundly subdued state I don't blame the youth but my condemnation is rather towards the parents. Whenever a guy or a girl asks for permission to visit a jatra the common hearsay from the guardians is "Pardaina jatra satra ma jaana, hulmul ma parincha!!"
C'mon it's ridiculous! Jatra's are meant to be crowded. I know it and you know it too. But the most tragic thing is that some conscious, intelligent and educated civilians, knowing the facts, are acting indifferent and causing the festival to perish.
However, the show has to go on and my mission should be accomplished. So with no further delay I recruited a procession where there were around 5 to 10 boys masqueraded as cows and jogis accompanied by a blaring band baja. Then we took a devious route through the city and finally landed back to Hanuman Dhoka from where the processions had started. In the midst I tussled hard to interview the boys but the timid refused to speak. A small chap, with apprehension, uttered his name, "Rajesh Shrestha", said he. He was from "Dillibazaar". My search for some enthusiastic boys continues.
Meanwhile I got myself engaged with a foreigner at Basantapur who's name was Peter Goesch (from Germany). He willingly replied all my whens, whys and hows. He had been witnessing the carnival from 9 a.m., and while answering my questions I figured that he was quite confused, because the inexperienced, so-called "guides" rambling beside him had mediocre knowledge about the facts. After thanking him for his co-operation, I finally got what I was looking for.
The two garrulous boys were with their sister Agya Shrestha. The brats seemed smart and confident enough to speak out. According to them, they were present for the jatra to honour their grandmother's departed soul. Their walk began from New Baneswor and were subsequently taken to their old house at Maru. After completing the required pujas there, they marched the whole city. One of them was disguised as a jogi and another one as a cow. In the end the innocent kids happily exhibited their goodies, which was a spread of roti, milk, cheura, mithai, and even Rio, Mirinda, which they received from the people.
I was so engrossed in the conversation that I almost failed to notice that dusk had fallen, so I packed up and returned home.
THE MYTH GIST