While the attention of many in the country is toward the new constitution and many others are busy planting paddy and harvesting maize crop, locals of upper Manang have marked a sporting festival. They celebrated their centuries-old horse race festival known as Yartung festival.
Upper Manang folks have been celebrating this festival every year with pomp and fervor after completing cultivation. The area is located 3,540 meters above the sea level. The festival involves singing, dancing, and horse race and a grand feast.
"The festival starts as soon as the locals finish cultivating wheat, buckwheat and vegetables. They gather at an open ground located in Bhraka for Yartung festival," informed Binod Gurung, chairman of the Tourism Entrepreneurs Association, Manang.
According to him, almost 700 locals from seven VDCs in upper Manang, including Tanki Manang, Pisang, Bhraka, Khangsar, and Ngawal, among others participate in the horse race. "Even foreign tourists showed their participation in various events. The festival has drawn the attention of large number of tourists," added Gurung.
Equestrians, all male, aged between 16 and 60 years compete with each other in horse racing. The participants sing traditional Manang songs and dance to the beats of traditional musical instruments including fiddles and drums. Liberal amount of sumptuous food and drinks accompany the festival.
"All the horses were decorated with colorful ribbons and woolen carpet saddles while the locals wear colorful traditional clothes making the festival even more special and glamorous," said Sushila Gurung of Chame Bazaar.
Tourism entrepreneur Khadka Pariyar said the sight of hundreds of horses galloping amid blossoming colorful flowers against the backdrop of imposing mountains was simply incomparable. "It looks like a beautiful scene from movies. People easily fall in love with Upper Manang," he said.
The three-day festival that started on Monday, 20th July 2015 has just come to an end.