Context: The subject of this interview was a student at UCSB and conducted many trips abroad while attending the school.
“And so we were in the last throes of our stay in Kathmandu, Nepal. One day of the four guys that I went the second year as an adult advisor. So I was the advisor and there were four juniors in college with me, four males. One of the guys that was one of our students and I decided we need to see Kathmandu, the main city of Nepal, wake up. We should get up really early and like 330 in the morning one morning and go into the city and see how the city wakes up. See who gets up first, who does what in the city, how do they do it, how do they communicate, and what happens at that hour in the morning. So my friend and myself got up, and as Kathmandu was waking up that day there was a parade developing along the main part of the town. And these are really really old cities, almost medieval cities with temples and its just a gorgeous setting. People were walking through the town playing their instruments and they had animals and they all had a cow. We kept thinking, what is this? And we didn’t necessarily speak much of the language, and the people in Kathmandu didn’t speak much English. We just had to watch what they were doing. They were preparing meals and also doing things near the temples, with it obviously a festival or something. We eventually found out it was the annual festival of the cow, and they would take five or six people to get a cow and walk through the city. In the other direction, four or five other people would take a cow in the other direction. And this was the festival we stumbled upon that morning”
This piece of folklore is a long running important cultural festival in Nepal. According to Tibet Vista, a tourist site trying to attract people to come to the country, the festival is also known as Gai Jatra and “is one of the most important festivals in Nepal”. The festival takes eight days and “is mainly held by the Newar community in Kathmandu valley to commemorate the dead in the last year”.
Jigme , Catherine. “Gai Jatra, Gai Puja, Nepal Festival of Cows.” Tibet Travel and Tours – Tibet Vista, 19 Nov. 2019, https://www.tibettravel.org/nepal-festival/gai-jatra.html.