Horse Riding (Yar Tun) Festival

Horse Riding Festival

Yar Tun translated from Tibetan as “summer’s end”, marks the last lazy days of the growing season and the first laborious days of the harvest. In villages throughout Upper Mustang, Yar tun ten dil (more commonly known as Yartung celebration), is a three-day festival at which the Lobas feast, drink, dance, sing, and race their sturdy Tibetan ponies.

The celebrations begin in Lo Manthang, region’s largest village and former capital of the Kingdom of Lo Tsu Dun, with a short ceremony inside the walled city. Then, during three days (first day for men, second for women and third for monks) they ride their horses from town’s gate towards the east and spend the day on the fields eating, drinking and entertaining each other’s with traditional Loba, Tibetan songs and dances. In the late afternoon, the horses are again mounted and raced across the fields straight to the village. Here, the town folks watch as the riders race, throwing rocks at stationary targets and also picking up khata (silken scarves) from the ground - all while galloping on their horses. As the sun sets, the revelers move back inside the city where the festivities continue.

The tradition of Yartung is actually growing stronger. Lo Manthang only revived the ancient festival about 15 years ago. The horses of the Tibetan Plateau have their days in the sun.

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