When people of all ages gather around Tundikhel in the centre of Kathmandu to tread the spirit of demon, a popular myth told by their ancestors that coincides with an exciting horse parade, it is Ghode jatra festival in Nepal.
Believed to have been celebrated to mark the end of Guru Mapa, the legendary demon of the valley, it falls on the no-moon day of March (Chait of Hindu calendar). It is a day when hundreds of cavalry from Nepal Army and Nepal Police participate in a spectacular horse parade and performances. It is believed that the more the horses tread the ground, the bigger the victory achieved. Tops personalities and dignitaries including the President and Prime Minister join to the event. Helicopters hover around in support of the performing cavalry.
In Newar societies, it is a festival all family members to come together and to refresh the family bond. The head of the family performs a ritual to various deities including powerhouse temples and different Bhairavs to appease them to look after the valley and ward off any calamities. They prepare various delicacies like meat, beaten rice, numerous vegetables, fruits and locally brewed alcohol. In Newar language, Pahan means guest and chahre mean fest. People clean their houses, participate in celebrations and enjoy with family and friends.
A rare meeting of gods is organized by thousands of exciting devotees in during the festival. Idols from important temples are brought with frenzied celebrations in palanquins during the day in Ason and at night in Tundikhel. Musical parades of different color hats from different directions meet for an euphoria and disperse again. In Patan as a part of fun, a horse is intoxicated with alcohol and chased to run.
Guru Mapa who terrorized the city dwellers in Kantipur (Kathmandu) by snatching and eating their children. Later, the people persuaded the giant to enter into an understanding with them, that a lavish and plentiful annual banquet would be given to him if he ceased terrorizing Kathmandu. As such, Kathmanduites still organize a feast in honor of Guru Mapa during the festival at midnight beneath the lone tree in the middle of the open ground Tundikhel. Local offer the whole buffalo apart from drinks to the cannibal Guru Mapa.
By : Pramesh Pradhan