The Gaijatra Day in Nepal: a repertoire of political and socio-economic lessons
The Gaijatra (cow festival) has become a well-established tradition of exposing political, economic and social illnesses of the Nepali society. This is a comprehensive reflection of Nepal. When the Nepalis observe the festival scenes in the form of cultural manifestations in the streets of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, they can understand something about the contemporary issues of the Nepali society.
As to the initiation of the Gaijatra in Nepal, there is a long-quoted and widely believed story behind it. King Pratap Malla, a medieval king in the Kathmandu valley, not being able to please his wife deeply regretful of her son’s death, organized various entertainment programs marked by funs, mockeries, humor and satire to divert his queen’s mind from grief to pleasure and entertainment.
In the current context, the Gaijatra has become not only a festival show but also an annual entertainment program marked by diversity in contexts and presentations.
Apart from the open Gaijatra demonstrations in the streets of major cities, reputed film artists and comedians give their professional presentations to paying spectators. The shows are mainly concerned with political, economic and social issues of the day.
However, such programs are observed to be heading towards more sexual vulgarism more recently. Some even believe that entertainment programs emphatic of sexual vulgarism will not but help to stimulate sexual violence.
The annual Gaijatra had also played a figuratively political role during the 30-year Partyless Panchayat regime. The Panchayat rulers used to suppress people’s right to freedom of expression and opinion throughout the year. But they allowed the Gaijatra to be more expressive for one day, and people would wait for the whole year to get access to diverse expressions from within the Nepali society.
The Gaijatra has also become a symbol of disorder and irregularities in the real life situation. People often refer to the word ‘Gaijatra’ when they want to mean that the society has anomalies and lawlessness.
The current Nepali political scenario is almost synonymous with the show of the Gaijatra. The Constituent Assembly Legislative-Parliament has not been able to elect a prime minister for about two months following the resignation of Madhav Kumar Nepal, who still remains caretaker government head. His party United Marxist-Leninist (UML), with a decisively linking number of votes, has declined to participate in the election of the next prime minister. For almost five weeks, it has silently blocked the process of forming the next government. It could vote for any party after its resignation. But it has shown reluctance to actually depart from the government even after the resignation. This is just one instance of high level degradation of political morality in Nepal. Thus, the Gaijatra contains rich political implications.
Contemporary issues find plenty of place in both print and electronic media on the occasion of the Gaijatra. Several magazines publish special issues of the Gaijatra. Such special issues of the magazines contain satirical and farcical characterizations of the overall Nepali society, especially regarding public issues.
Electronic media, too, offer special shows on the occasion. In essence, the Gaijatra period becomes a day of catharsis.
Amidst growing print and electronic mass media in the country, people these days have begun to take the Gaijatra more lightly. It is generally understood that they are more inclined to Hindi and English movies than to traditional ways of entertainment.
Many admit that there is an everyday Gaijatra in Nepal. It means one can observe political, social and economic anomalies every day in every sector. However, the Nepalis can do better by being more constructive and innovative to cope with the demonstrated evils. For this purpose, the Gaijatra can be a rich repertoire of lessons.
Tags: Gaijatra , Nepalese Festivals , Kathmandu , Mall King , Nepal , Politics , Economics , Society , Culture
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