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Ghode Jatra-Horse Racing Festival of Nepal


Ghode Jatra, the horse racing festival of Nepal, celebrated on the New Moon day of mid March or early April is among the important celebrations of the Kathmandu Valley. Grand horse parade including various acrobatic style of shows are performed by Nepal military at Tundikhel-a fenced parade ground located in the heart of Kathmandu city.

Ghode Jatra, the horse racing festival of Nepal, celebrated on the New Moon day of mid March or early April is among the important celebrations of the Kathmandu Valley. Grand horse parade including various acrobatic style of shows are performed by Nepal military at Tundikhel-a fenced parade ground located in the heart of Kathmandu city. The celebration is attended by the state and government heads, ministers, high government officials and foreign dignitaries. In the past the festival was considered only for denizens of Kathmandu. But today popularity of the festival has magnetized people from all over the country and foreign travelers as well.

The festival holds its own myth of a victory over a demon named Gurumapa, who inhabited over the meadow of the Tundikhel. There still exists a tree in the South-East part of the Tundikhel where Gurumapa supposed to be resides.

As per assure made with the demon before his last breath the night before Ghode Jatra, a buffalo is sacrificed and rice is cooked near the tree as a feast for the demon. The day before Ghode-Jatra, Newari-community people celebrates a festival; Panchare. Panchare is said to be a propitious day for consuming a large amount of garlic and meat, some even consider it a day when citizen in the streets may inebriate themselves.

Fable of the Gurumapa defines: Gurumapa a fiend lived in the Tundikhel scared children of the Kathmandu city. He used to abduct juvenile kids with an intention to terrorize and torture them. Every evening became perilous for kids of city. So denizens of Kathmandu paraded horse in the Tundikhel with an intention to kill the devil encroaching under the horse toe. And when he met with his death people rejoiced by dancing over his body with horses. So it is believed that the clamor of horses’ hooves on Ghode Jatra at Tundikhel keeps the demon spirit at bay as it still threatens to ruin the city. It's believed that, the faster the horses run quicker will Gurumapa’s spirit is dispelled. The swift running of the horses on this day is also considered to be a good omen for the Nepalese people.

Another event takes place on Ghode Jatra is at Bal Kumari area in Patan where a horse is intoxicated with spirits and an equally drunk person in a traditional Newari attire rides it. People shout to frighten and enrage the animal until it runs widely with the rider clinging to it. 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 tempted to go Tundikhel. The most worshiped goddess on this day in Bhadrakali also known by the Newari people as Lumarhi Devi.