The celebration of Ghode Jatra is done in the wide open ground of Tundikhel every year in the heart of Kathmandu. Organized on the no-moon day of Chaitra, “Ghode Jatra” translates to “Horse Parade” in Nepali. Organized and performed by Nepal Army and Police together, Ghode Jatra has a historically rich lore that centers on Kathmandu city’s antiquity and yesteryear memoir. This occasion falls about mid-March or early April of the English Calendar month. A big horse parade takes place at Tundikhel. Comprising of a demon terrorizing the denizens of Kathmandu in ancient medieval times, the legend speaks of how Nepali culture and tradition is veritable, unique and opulently rich.
The idols of the gods of many localities are taken in a procession in their area in Kharpan and small Rath (portable chariots). The community organize big feast at this time. A demon called ‘Gurumumpa’ is also propitiated at this time in Tundikhel. Idol of Gods Lumadi, Bhadrakali, Kankeshwari and Bhairav are brought to Asan chok during the day time at the main celebration and at night in Tundikhel. This day these Gods meet together every year. Actually Godhe Jatra Falls within the festival of Pahachare. Pahachare is the three-day festival of the Newar community. Pahachare means inviting guests in Newari language. This festival begins every year on the Chaitra Krishna Pakcha Chaturdashi (Krishna Pakshya is second half of a lunar month). On the occasion, eight goddesses at different Shaktipiths (power centres) including Kankeshwori, Bhadrakaali and Mahankal are said to be activated through tantrik rites.
On the day before Ghode Jatra, the Newars of different localities of Kathmandu city first clean their surroundings (specially the sewages) and then they carry idols of their gods on raths (chariots) in colourful processions around their localities as part of a three day festival known as Pahachare. Meanwhile, the idols of the gods Lumadi, Bhadrakali, Kankeshwari and Bhairav are brought to Ason Chowk during the day (this is the only time they will be meeting in the year) ―this is when the main celebrations take place. The palanquins carrying the gods are dashed against each other near the Annapurna Temple to signify their meeting. Different communities organize communal feasts in their localities. In the evening, celebration of the meeting of the four above-mentioned gods is continued in Tundikhel whereby a demon called ‘Gurumumpa’ is propitiated.
The second day of Pahachare is Ghode Jatra, a festival to celebrate the defeat of Tundi, the demon who once resided in the meadow now known as Tundikhel. After his death, he was trampled upon under horses’ hooves. The Ghode Jatra is said to have been initiated to make sure that his spirit remained trampled due to the clamor of the galloping horses.
Funnily, a rival festival is organized at the same time in Patan. Ghode Jatra was originally meant only for the citizens of Kathmandu, and so, some king or the other of Patan decided to have one of their own, and not only that, but one that was much more exciting. So, on this day, in a place called Balkumari, a horse is made to drink copious amounts of liquor and an equally drunk local is made to ride the now drunk horse while spectators try their best to frighten the animal into running wildly around the locality. One must say, well done Patan, just be a bit careful, hear?