Ghode Jatra—the festival of the horse—was marked with a special programme at the Army Pavilion, Tundikhel in the Capital on Sunday.
Although the horses’ parade was the major attraction of the event, other items such as cultural programmes, motorcycle riding skill displays and gymnastic performances were also a big draw with the audience.
Heads of constitutional bodies, including President Dr Ram Baran Yadav, Prime Minister Jhala Nath Khanal, ministers and representatives of different constitutional bodies, were present at the festival venue. According to a popular belief, this festival began as a celebration of the victory over a demon named Tundi who resided in the meadow, which is known as Tundikhel at present.
The demon Tundi used to trouble the people of Kathmandu valley. The people caught it and buried it in Tundikhel. However, the spirit continued to trouble children in one way or another. So spurred by the belief that the spirit is still alive, the practice of suppressing it with the hoofs of the horses was started in Tundikhel. It is believed that the clamour of horses’ hooves on Ghode Jatra
at Tundikhel keeps the demon’s spirit at bay.
In Lalitpur, Ghode Jatra was celebrated in a different way. The celebration commenced by offering animal sacrifice at the Patan Durbar Square based Bhimsen Temple. In this festival, which dates back to the time of late king Narendra Dev, only one horse is used.
The Lalitpur, Ghode Jatra starts on the no-moon-day of the Nepali month of Chaitra. Here, there is a tradition where Chyonkhala—the local Newar community—sings a song about Mahabharata. One person from the community travels on horseback from the main junction at the Durbar Square to Balkhuchiba, visiting different temples.
The government has announced a public holiday to mark this day.