Kirtipur is an ancient Newari settlement of Kathmandu. Its rich art, culture, and traditions portray the close link the ancient kingdom has with its bordering regions. However, Kirtipur is heavily influenced by modernization due to rising trend of establishing contemporary commercial hubs. But despite the modernization, the ancient kingdom has still been giving continuity to its past customs.
Gai Jatra is regarded as the most prominent tradition of the region. Though Gai Jatra is celebrated throughout Kathmandu, the events that Kirtipur hold are unique. The Dey Guthi procession is the highlight of the festival which comprises humorous affairs mocking the concurrent socio-political scenario. It also gets the locals together to witness the historical event linked with the infamous treachery by a local.
According to local belief, the unification campaign of Prithivi Narayan Shah wouldn’t have been possible, had a local – Dancha Buddha – not given valuable insights about the Newari kingdom to the king. During Gai Jatra, the locals mock the betrayer by performing the ‘Dhe Dhe Pa Pa’ dance recital.
At present, the participation of locals donning daunting attires is another highlight of the festival. Amid the traditional characters, the involvement of additional performers is also on a rise. Nonetheless, despite the concurrent changes, and influences of modernization, Kirtipur still gives continuity to its traditional practices and the original customs that are linked with the festival.
Here are some glimpses of the past year’s festivities showing what one can expect during Kirtipur’s Gai Jatra celebrations.