Ghode Jatra – The festival of horses.
Ghode Jatra is one of the many festivals of the Newar community which is celebrated in Kathmandu valley. In 2022, It is celebrated on April 1 (Chaitra 18).
It is said Ghode Jatra was organized to celebrate the victory over a demon named Tundi who resides over the field known as Tundikhel. Tundi was a big terror for the people of Kathmandu. When he died people cheered by dancing on his body with horses. The celebration is watched each year to give recognition to the occupants of Kathmandu in ancient times who courageously battled the evil presence who was terrorizing the city for a long time.
The festival grandstands the true and extravagantly rich Nepali culture and traditions. This race is thought to have been commenced in the olden times by a certain Malla king of Patan to give a better show in comparison to Tundikhel’s parade, as in those days no one from Patan was tempted to go Tundikhel. The most worshiped goddess on this day in Bhadrakali is also known by the Newari people as Lumarhi Devi.
The horse festival or Ghode Jatra is one of the spectacular events held at Tundikhel and takes place around March. The main event consists of horse races, a tradition that goes back centuries to a king who ordered that horses be made to gallop across the field to trample the spirit of a resident demon into the ground. The festival is observed on the new moon of Chaitra Sukla Paksha in the Eastern Lunar calendar, which means it usually falls in March or April in the western calendar. The parades and competitions are carried out in the presence of heads of state. Nepal Army organizes the parade and competitions.
Origin Of Ghodhe Jatra
In the inner city of Kathmandu, whenever children disappeared, it was assumed that demons or cannibals did it. In order to scare off the bad spirits, campers in Tudikhel who had horses with them were asked to run those horses around Tudikhel to scare off the demons. People gathered and fed the demons near the tree that is still located in the middle of Tudikhel. The ritual later took the form of a festival. The tradition later changed into a national festival. Newar people mark the festival with a feast.
Purpose of Ghodhe Jatra
The Ghode Jatra is known as the oldest festival celebrated in the country’s cultural hub of the Valley. The festival is being celebrated annually as per mythology which relates to the genesis of the festival after the death of a demon named Tundi. The celebration is watched each year to give recognition to the occupants of Kathmandu in ancient times who courageously battled the evil presence who was terrorizing the city for a long time. The festival grandstands the true and extravagantly rich Nepali culture and traditions.
Myths Behind Ghode Jatra
There are many stories or beliefs connected to the Ghode Jatra festival. In the history of Kathmandu valley, the Kings of Kathmandu worship the Bhadrakali goddess in the temple nearby Tundikhel. A courteous procession is carried in respect of the Living Goddess Kumari. Hence, this procession got modified into the Ghode Jatra with the parade of horses. Whatever the myths and beliefs exist, the Ghode Jatra Festival is now an entertaining activity where the horse riders and acrobats demonstrate their skills with the horses and compete for the rewards too. Its popularity has attracted many tourists to Nepal. These demonstration activities during the Ghode Jatra festival have been now competitive sports and now become a type of Military pageant.
In another Hindu myth, one story follows like this. There was a Demon Gurumpa who was feasted on a huge amount of food in the Tundikhel. The other story says it is celebrated as the victory over the Tundi demon. Tundikhel was the house of the ‘tundi’ demon that was a terror to local people. The people celebrated the death of the Tundi demon by dancing in the Tundikhel with horses.
Ghode Jatra is organized every year in tudikhel in kathmandu on the new moon of Chaitra Sukla Pakshya in the Eastern Lunar calendar. On this day many people from local areas goes on a parade as we riding in small, portable “chariots”. The Hindu demon-god Guru Mumpa is offered sacrifices to appease him. Horse races, bicycle races, acrobatic performances, and other events also take place.