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NEPAL - Aug 1, 2003

Nepal's second annual gay pride festival, the 2003 Gaijatra Blue Diamond Society Pride Festival will be celebrated on August 13, 2003 in Kathmandu. This annual festival draws crowds of locals as well as tourists, to join in the fun and enjoyment in coordination with one of Nepal's major traditional festivals.

The festival of "Gai Jatra" is one of the oldest and most unusual of the many holidays celebrated by the Hindus of Kathmandu Valley. Some say the custom goes back more than a millennium, to the time of theLicchavi kings. Falling on the day after Janai Purnima, the full moon day of August, Gai Jatra is a day for remembering those who have died in the past year. In addition to praying for the departed, family and friends commemorate the deceased in great processions, which wind their way through the streets of the ancient Newar towns ofBhaktapur and Kathmandu.

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 Newar men in the procession dress in women's clothing. Over the centuries, the Gai Jatra Festival developed a second purpose. In the days when political expression of any kind was outlawed, Gai Jatra was the day when ordinary citizens could vent their frustrations through political and social satire, without fear of reprisal from their rulers.

Given this history, Gai Jatra was selected by the Blue Diamond Society, as and appropriate time to stage Nepal's Pride celebration.

Pride activities will include a show, awards, and a parade procession of musical band and costumed marchers representing various local Mati, Ta, Maruni, Kotha, Kothi, GLBT, friends and families.


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