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Local Lore of the Ghode Jatra Festival Part 2

We told you the first part of the Ghode Jatra festival story the other day, in Part 1. Are you ready for the second half?

This terrifying demon was the legendary Gurumapa, whose stories were often told by elders to their children all over the valley. Scared, Kesh Chandra remained rooted to his spot. It was no use running, he knew, for the monster was much faster than him. And besides, he had been on an empty stomach for quite some time, so he didn’t have the energy. Some of his wit remained, however, and he cried, “Gurumapa! Please listen to me before making me your meal. Just look at me, do you think this thin body will be enough to satisfy your hunger? Instead, why don’t you come with me to my home, where I’ll provide you a huge feast of three big sacks of rice and an entire buffalo. You can hold on to this bundle of golden eggs just in case you don’t believe me, and return it only after having your feast.”

Gurumapa was quite a sensible monster, and seeing the logic in his reasoning (the human was so puny!), he agreed to the deal. And so, he picked up the bundle and followed the human to his home.

Kesh Chandra managed to pick a golden egg from the bundle without the monster knowing about it, and with it, arranged for three sacks of rice and a buffalo to be served. Keeping his side of the bargain, Gurumapa handed over the precious bundle of golden eggs to his host. Then, he started on his feast. Now, he would return satisfied to his cave, thought Kesh Chandra. But Gurumapa was so happy with the surroundings that he lay down and began snoring in the backyard.

The people were mightily relieved to see that the demon did not get up like before, and was dead for sure. But still, the fear remained: would the monster again get back up and terrorize the city? So, somebody came up with the idea of having horses run all over the grounds of Tundikhel at least once a year, to ensure that the demon remain trampled underground.

In this way, the monster slept for three days and three nights. When he woke up at last, he called for his host and asked for more food. Kesh Chandra found himself in a fix; he was anxious about what would happen when and if his neighbors came to know about his harboring a demon, and at the same time he was too frightened of offending him. So, he went on feeding him for the next thirty days, with the demon sleeping for three days afterwards, then waking up and demanding to be fed again.

As expected, some people around began to notice the presence of a monster in Kesh Chandra’s backyard, and they advised him to get rid of him immediately.

So, putting on his sincerest face, he said to Gurumapa that he had found a better place for him to stay, under a thick Ficus tree in Tundikhel, where he would be more comfortable. He also vowed to fetch him his meal every four days. By now, the monster had become quite trusting of the human, and agreed to change his place of residence, where he began his cycle of three days’ sleep. But, on awakening, he didn’t see Kesh Chandra anywhere nearby. He waited and waited, but no meal was forthcoming.

Gurumapa’s anger once again aroused, he walked up to Kesh Chandra’s house, frightening everybody who came across him. The next thing they witnessed was the sight of a pitifully wailing Kesh Chandra being dragged back to Tundikhel by the monster with the flaming red hair. That was the last time anyone ever saw the unfortunate fellow.

Thenceforth, Gurumapa began to terrorize the city folk, and started carrying off children, who would never be seen again. No one dared move around after dusk anymore, and only the very foolish would dare to go near Tundikhel. This state of terror continued for three whole months.

Eventually, the ire of the local people of Kathmandu was sufficiently aroused, and they gathered in the form of a very angry mob. Carrying all sorts of weapons, they drove Gurumapa back to Tundikhel every time he made a foray into the city, but no matter how many times they did that, the monster would get back up and return again. So, in a final act of desperation, they brought a horde of large horses and released them in Tundikhel. The horses stampeded at the sight of the monster, and in the melee, trampled all over Gurumapa, crushing him to the ground.

The people were mightily relieved to see that the demon did not get up like before, and was dead for sure. But still, the fear remained: would the monster again get back up and terrorize the city? So, somebody came up with the idea of having horses run all over the grounds of Tundikhel at least once a year, to ensure that the demon remain trampled underground.

And so was born the Ghode Jatra (Parade of Horses). In time, it became a grand spectacle of horsemanship by the cavalry’s horse riders and their magnificent mounts.

Top image: Paul K/Flickr

Inspired by tours where you can see festivals like this? Have a look at festival tours offered by Royal Mountain Travel:

Mustang Tiji Festival

Janai Purnima and Jai Jatra Festival Tour

Haritalika Teej & Rishi Panchami Festival Tour

Bijaya Dashami Festival (Dashain) Tour

Bisket Jatra Festival Tour

Ram Navami Festival in Janakpur Tour

Local Lore of the Ghode Jatra Festival, Part 1
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