Kathmandu, November 13: Gai or Cow Puja is being observed nationwide today, marking the third day of the five-day-long Tihar festival celebrated by Hindus across the country. This day, locally known as Gai Tihar, holds significance as devotees’ express reverence for cows, considering them as maternal figures from whom love is received, akin to a mother.
In a tradition dating back to ancient Vedic times, cows are worshipped during this festival. They are adorned with garlands, and various delicacies are offered to them. The reverence for cows is deeply rooted in religious beliefs, attributing sacred qualities to them, particularly due to the nutritious milk they provide, likened to that of human mothers.
Modern science has also emphasized the importance of cows, highlighting that the energy of local breeds is derived from the sun and moon, ultimately benefiting humans through the milk they produce.
In specific regions and communities, there’s a tradition of worshipping cows on the day of Kartik Krishna Aunsi. However, classical beliefs dictate that cow worship should take place at the end of Aunsi and the beginning of Pratipada, according to Prof. Dr. Ram Chandra Gautam, a member of the Nepal Calendar Determination Committee.
There’s a religious belief associated with this ritual that suggests tying the Rakshabandhan (a protective thread) from the right hand to the cow’s tail after worship. According to this belief, the cow will assist in crossing the river Vaitarani in the afterlife, facilitating the journey to heaven. This ritual is a symbolic expression of gratitude and respect for the sacred role that cows play in the lives of many Hindus.