Why are Gaijatra satire performances vanishing?

Published On: August 16, 2019 06:30 AM NPT By: Sujita Pradhan

Maybe social media is to be blamed, say comedians

KATHMANDU, Aug 16: There was a time when Kathmandu's theaters and halls would be booked weeks in advance and jam-packed for months when Gaijatra performances were held by country's leading comedians. But the story is different now.

Gaijatra, also known as 'Sar Paro' in Newari, is a festival mainly celebrated by the people of Newar community in Kathmandu Valley to commemorates the death of people during the first year of death of a member in their family.

King Pratap Malla, who ruled Kathmandu from 1641-1674 AD, initiated the festival as a way to console his wife after the death of their son. The idea behind the long procession was to help Malla's queen realize how everyone loses their loved ones and that death is inevitable.

Gaijatra has been a great festival to mock those in power and social ills. It used to be an opportunity for people to enjoy and understand our ongoing social, political and economical malfunctions.

Comedians used to prepare and advertise such events weeks in advance. It appears that the tradition is dying. Instead, social media platforms have been the key tool in making fun of those in power. It almost appears people are making fun of everyone constantly.

Deepak Raj Giri, actor-turned producer, who produced the hit movie 'Chha Ekan Chha' said, “We stopped doing Gaijatra performances two years ago. The government isn't supportive to this genre and has not done anything to preserve this tradition.” He added, “Everyone is a satirist today and they are doing their job from various social media platforms.”

“We loved going to theaters and watch Gaijatra performances, but it is sad to see that such shows have become rare today,” said Sumit Sharma, 45, a regular attendee of such shows in Kathmandu.

Kedar Prasad Ghimire, actor, scriptwriter, comedian and film producer, commonly known as Magne Budha said, “We all are busy with our commitments and this tradition is simply ignored but people poke fun at politicians all the time and so our job is done in part by the public.”

“Satirical performances show sheer incompetence of politicians so they are keen to continue such programs and social media users have filled in such role today,” said Jag Man Gurung, Vice-Chancellor of Nepal Academy.

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