Ghode Jatra – Conquering a Demon
Tundi was a demon that brought terror and destruction to the people of Kathmandu in Nepal many years ago. The villagers finally took a stand against the demon on the great meadows, which are now the Tundikhel Showgrounds. In a great onslaught of strength and determination, the people of Kathmandu overpowered and killed the demon, dancing on his body and trampling his remains with their horses. According to legend, the demon is still buried under the showground, and it is believed that if horses do not trample the ground above the demon every year, his power will be restored and he will once again rise to bring vengeance and suffering to Kathmandu.
The Ghode Jatra horse festival is held annually at the Tundikhel Showgrounds and it is an event that is no longer exclusive to the Kathmandu villagers. People from all over Nepal, including foreign visitors, travel to the city to join in the victory celebration that is centuries old. It is a cultural festival and is accompanied by music, dance and tasty foods. The main events of the festival are still performed by horses, as the Nepalese believe that the faster the horses run, the quicker the demon is returned to his death and it is considered to be a very good omen.
Most of the horse exhibitions are performed by the Nepalese army and visitors can look forward to a breathtaking parade and spectacular graceful demonstrations by the horses and their riders. Athletic horse events such as horse racing and show jumping are always on the program, with acrobatic performances and stunts on horseback that get the spectators on their feet. Cultural exhibitions and motorcycle events also make up part of the program for the day, but most visitors are spellbound by the beauty and the precise execution of movement that is exhibited by the mounted soldiers and their noble steeds.
This magnificent festival is filled with culture, history, tradition and festivities that usually take place either near the end of March or in early April. The significance of this event is highlighted by the vast number of spectators and the presence of the Nepalese King and Queen. Visitors to Nepal are recommended to attend the festival, as it is a day of expert horsemanship and joyful celebrations.