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Ghode Jatra: Festival of Horses in Nepal

  • 20-Mar-2015
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Ghode Jatra is known as the festival of horses in Nepal celebrated during March.  Tundikhel ground in central Kathmandu hosts the festival every year with the head of the nation being invited along with other government officials and the general public watching the show from around the fence. It is believed that centuries ago Kings who use to rule Kathmandu used to encircle Tundikhel and worship Bhadrakali temple which continued to be celebrated as Ghode Jatra in the current age.

During the festival, dozens of horses parade around the ground including horse racing, cavaliers showing their horse-riding skills, army men and women performing various forms of martial arts, demonstration of rescue operation by the army, parachuting from a helicopter, and so on. It is not completion but yes, the best performer gets a medal from the head of the state, the President. The participating army and policemen will be practicing from months before to put up a grand show for this day of Ghode Jatra.

There are various saying, myths, and stories behind Ghode Jatra. It is believed that the fast running of horses on Tundikhel avoids the city from the terror caused by a devil named Tundi. On the other hand, Ghode Jatra is also celebrated at Patan where an intoxicated person from Newari background rides the intoxicated horse, and people around shout until the person falls from the horse. Not exactly like bull riding but quite similar. This show was believed to be started by the ancient King of Patan to put up a better show than of Kathmandu. However, it is celebrated peacefully and the ancient tradition, festivals, and rituals are carried on to generations.

Another interesting story collides on this day of Ghode Jatra. Newar inhabitants celebrate this day as Paanchare where they invite their relatives and cousin and have a great get-together party after worshipping Luku Mahadev and Bhairav. Luke Mahadev is the name of Lord Shiva hidden below the ground. Once a demon named Bhasmashur worshipped Lord Shiva with all dedications and asked for a boon that whatever he touches turns into ashes. As soon as Lord Shiva agreed and said ‘Tathastu’ he threatened the Lord himself and ran after Shiva for testing. With fear, Shiva dug a hole and hide under the ground to get rid of Bhasmasur. With all these interesting mythological tales, beliefs, horse parades, and grand shows, Ghode Jatra is celebrated with grand passion in Nepal.

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