Nagqu Horse Racing Festival ནག་ཆུའི་རྟ་རྒྱུགས་
Nagqu horse racing festival is the most magnificent annual festival in Nagqu, the Largest prefecture in Tibet. This is the grandest yearly celebration in northern Tibet. It is celebrated when the grasses are tallest, and the weather is most accommodating in the Northern grassland of Nagqu in August.
Herdsman and their families go to the Nagqu well in advance from all over Tibetan plateau. They arrive with their herds, horse and their tents, bring all the things required for their daily life. Life becomes normal after the installment of the nomad tent with the excitement of upcoming competitions.
In the evening the scene of the campsite become very picturesque with the rays of the horizontal setting sun lighting the surging waves on vast grassland and casting a shadow of tents. Smokes from the shelter as the food are being prepared. Flocks of sheep gathered together, and children were playing beside it. Horse drinking water at the distance lake. And elders dancing in the circle around the fire.
Tibetan group dance or Gorshe is the most common dance, people would gather around in the fireplace and dance around it. Different region has a different style in dance. During the Nagqu House racing festival people would dance around in the Nagqu or nomad style. You will also hear Nomads singing their songs in very high pitch in distance.
The people from Nagqu town and nearby villages would come to the ground on the opening ceremony of the horse racing festival. Everyone will wear their own local Tibetan traditional dress. The boundaries of the race ground would be marked with the colorful flags. The horse rider would wear a very colorful dress and people would cheer for their team.
For the first day, the horsemen will show their horse riding skills like riding a horse on only one side of the horse, leaning toward the ground to pick the Khata from the ground and hitting on the bullseye with the arrows. There would be wrestling matches and lots of dancing.
Following the first day of the opening ceremony, on the second day onwards there will be more events like tug of wars, weightlifting, horse race, and yak races. Some time Tibetan opera troupe from Lhasa would come to perform during the festivals.
Tibetan Horse culture
Since we Tibetan lives in the vast highland. The horse is a most priced animal in our daily life. Each family has a priced horse in their house which they will raise with great care and training. The Horseracing festival such as in the Nagqu Horse racing is a great opportunity for each family to showcase their priced horse. More privilege will be when the horse of a particular family would represent their county in the race and winning the title.
In the old days we keep a horse for daily use for transportation and logistic, But now due to the increase in road connectivities and availabilities of vehicles. the horse in the family is raising only for the hobby of the father of the family and for the horse racing. It takes a lifelong preparation and training for the horse racing in Tibet.