Gaijatra Festival Commemorates Gilbert Baker who gave the world the Rainbow Flag
Sunil Babu Pant/Kathmandu (Pahichan) August 5 – This year, on the 8th of August, it will be the 14th Gaijatra festival celebrated by Blue Diamond Society and sexual/gender minority communities of Nepal.
This annual festival has become one of BDS premier events and draws crowds of local supporters as well as tourists, to join in the fun and enjoyment of the festivities. The festival of “GaiJatra” is one of the oldest and most unusual of the many festivals celebrated by the Hindus/Buddhists of Kathmandu Valley. Some say the custom goes back more than a millennium, to the time of the Licchavi kings. Falling on the day after Janai Purnima, the full moon day of August, GaiJatra is a day for remembering those who have died in the past year. In addition to praying for their departed loved ones, family and friends of the deceased commemorate them in great processions, which wind their way through the streets of the ancient towns of Bhaktapur, Patan, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Bharatpur, Bandipur, Gorkha, Dhulikhel, Jumla, and many more districts of Nepal etc.
Despite its associations with the dead, the festival procession is not a dour or solemn event. In fact, there is a great deal of merry-making connected with it. Many of the participants wear outlandish costumes. Traditionally, a good number of the young men in the procession dress in women’s clothing. Over the centuries, the GaiJatra Festival developed a second purpose. In the days when political expression of any kind was outlawed, GaiJatra was the day when ordinary citizens could vent their frustrations through political and social satire, without fear of reprisal from the rulers.
Commemorating Gilbert Baker:
Gilbert Baker, the designer of the iconic rainbow flag, died on March 31, 2017 at age 65. Baker was born in Chanute, Kansas, and joined the US Army as a medic. He arrived in San Francisco about 1970 to work at an orthopedic hospital where Vietnam veterans underwent skin grafts and amputations.
After his honorable discharge from the military, he stayed in San Francisco and immersed himself in the gay and lesbian community.
It was after the election of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in California, when Gilbert created the rainbow flag.
Dear Gilbert Baker, as we commemorate you during the Gaijatra festival of Nepal, the treasure and legacy you have created and gifted to the world, the Rainbow Flag, will continue to be risen high with pride and celebration!
Thank you and Namaste!
Request to our international friends: please send names of your loved ones who have passed over the last year that you wish to commemorate. Blue Diamond Society will lit candle in their names at the end of this procession. to contact check: www.bds.org.np
Request to the International Media: Please do not call this festival a Gay Pride March, as it is not the case.
Pic are copied from: edition.cnn.com