If you aren’t familiar with Kathmandu’s festivities, then Ghode Jatra will draw you in for a big surprise
According to the Nepali calendar this year, April 5 marks the auspicious day of Ghode Jatra. Every year, in mid-March or April, Kathmandu celebrates the festival of the horse with huge ceremonies and equestrian sports, most of which are displayed in Tundikhel.
In presence of the heads of state, this grand horse parade marks the defeat of a demon named Gurumapa that once terrorised the valley. Legend has it that the valley denizens released a horde of horses on the demon and rejoiced as it was slain. It is believed that the clamour of horses’ hooves at Tundikhel during the festival of Ghode Jatra keeps the demon’s spirit at bay.
In Newari communities, this festival is celebrated with a traditional feast to mark the end of the season; according to Saka calendar, Ghode Jatra marks the end of a year. To welcome good luck in the New Year, there is a special ceremony held in the old city of Kathmandu, locally known as ‘Manaja Nakyu’. People gather in the heart of the city to welcome the New Year with religious sermons and feeding children rice and milk, laddus (in recent years, chocolates have replaced laddus). With the assurance of good health and fortune, this time spent with close ones make this day all the more special.
Photos: Pratik Malakar