In today’s modern life some ancient practices have just been a part of the film. For an instant, horse riding. It was a primary transport in those days. But just imagine! A horse on a road between the automobiles or a horse in a ground. Sounds wired right! Surprisingly, Nepal has a special festival called Ghode Jatra, which a grand horse parade day. The grand parade takes place at Tundikhel ground. It is a formal program and is more like a Military Pageant. The head of the state and hundreds of spectators attend this show with a great gusto. It is a special day for Nepali army and policemen and a special day for horses too. And why not after all the horses are also performing on the national platform. An important thing about this festival is, it is only celebrated in Kathmandu valley.
It is an annual festival celebrated every year at Chaitra Sukla Pakshya. 20174 is celebrating Ghode Jatra on Saturday, 3rd Chaitra (17th of March 2018).
The mythology behind the Ghode Jatra
The idea behind Ghode Jatra lies behind an interesting mythology. According to the mythology, there was a demon, Tundi. He lived in a meadow, which is now at Tundikhel. He was actually the cannibal. After his death people rejoiced by dancing on his body by riding horses. There is a strong belief that that the horse parade at Tundikhel keeps the demon spirit away. The annual celebration at Tundikhel is a way to keep the nation free from the evil grip.
Events and its specialties
The festival of Ghode Jatra results in the grand celebration at Tundikhel, Ason Chowk and at Balkumari. Patan.
The isolated landmark of Tundikhel is busy celebrating an annual military pageant on this day. Hundreds of spectators and head of the state at the pavilion attend this show at Tundikhel. The stadium resounds under cheering and reverberates under thundering hooves of horses. The finest horses are brought to Tundikhel. The outstanding stunts and horse racing around the ground with a breakneck speed will increase once excitement to the extreme level. In between this, there is a musical performance by army and police band and presentation of other skills like gymnastics, judo, karate and tae kwon do. Army paratroopers sailing down is as the highlight of the event. Plus, Nepali army demonstrates a rescue scenario in which injured man is rescued from a burning building with the aid of a helicopter injects bravery and courage.
Ritual ceremony at Ason Chowk
In another side of the city, Ason Chowk is also celebrating the joy of this special day. The Newar community here celebrates Pahachare which literally means inviting guests. The three-day celebration begins with cleanliness. The surrounding and especially the sewage cleanliness is the top priority on this day. After that, an annual chariot festival continues. Idols of God Lumadi, Bhadrakali, Kankeshwari and Bhairav join the celebration at Ason Chowk during the day. The palanquins of the gods face each other near the Annapurna Temple. This signifies their one and only meeting in the entire year. Married daughters and sisters get the special invitation on this date.
Rival festival in Patan
The neighboring city Patan is also enjoying this day in a different and yet in an interesting way. Originally Ghode Jatra was only for the residence of Kathmandu. The kings in Patan decided to have one of their own. The Ghode Jatra celebration in Patan is a wonderful compensation of the one in Kathmandu. On this day at Balkurmari, a horse is made to drink copious amount of rice beer. Funnily an equally drunk man is to ride the drunk horse. The spectators try their best to frighten the horse into running wildly around the locality. The small hilly platform of Gwarko Domar at Balkumari is busy with family picnics.
All in all, Ghode Jatra is a heterogeny of ritual and adventure. It has something to offer for all age group. Also, it reminds the olden days when there were no automobiles. The live telecast on the national channels made this festival a most awaited one.