The roads in Kathmandu is busy and crowded everywhere. A sound of the clamor of galloping horses and cheers. Everyone gossiping, discussing and describing the events. Some are inviting their friends to a feast, some planning to attend the Tundikhel event and some are planning to have fun at Balkumari. Also, the television sets are conquered by N.T.V (or other national channels). You might be confused as a visitor. It’s actually an effect of the festival Ghode Jatra. It literally means the grand horse parade day. The festival lies on Chaitra Sukla Pakshya i.e the no moon day in mid or late March. Likewise, this year, in 2018, the celebration will be on Saturday, 17th of March. It welcomes the spring and also reminds the arrival of new Nepali year.
Furthermore, you might be curious to know the reason behind the celebration. Well, the reason lies behind the legendary tale. Legends have it as a demon named Tundi once 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. Moreover, 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.
The answer to this question might be the most interesting side of it. Ghode Jatra is a celebration, only in Kathmandu valley. Yet it offers three celebration styles in three places.
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. Likewise, 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, a demonstration of rescue scenario in which injured man is rescued from a burning building by the army with the aid of a helicopter injects bravery and courage.
In another side of the city, Ason Chowk is also celebrating the joy of this special day. Furthermore, 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.
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 Balkumari, a horse is made to drink copious amount of rice beer. Funnily an equally drunk man is to ride the drunken horse. The spectators try their best to frighten the horse into running wildly around the locality. Not to mention, the small hilly platform of Gwarko Domar at Balkumari is busy with family picnics.
All in all, Ghode Jatra is a heterogenic of ritual and adventure. It has something to offer for all age group. Also, the festival is as a farewell to freezing fall and welcomes to vibrant colors of the spring. It is the great day for the brave Nepali armies and policemen and the most awaited festival in the city.