Nepal | July 08, 2020

Newar community celebrating Yomari Punhi

Himalayan News Service
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Photo: Skanda Gautam/THT

Kathmandu, December 12

Yomari Punhi is being celebrated by the Newar community tomorrow throughout Kathmandu Valley.

The Punhi is celebrated only by the Newar community.

It is the festival of Newars that marks the end of the rice harvesting season. It takes place in November/December during the full moon day of Thinla, the second month in the lunar in Nepal Era calendar.

Yomari is a confectionery made of rice flour, molasses and sesame seeds.

Newars worship Annapurna, the goddess of grains and food, on the day. It is believed that worshipping Annapurna will bring prosperity throughout the year.

The Newars, after feasting on Yomari, await the end of their four days of worship, following which they believe they will be blessed with wealth.

People prepare Yomari, in the form of gods and goddesses such as Kumar, Ganesh, Laxmi and Kuber.

In keeping with this culture, parents bless their children, who are between two and 12 years of age. They are then offered Yomari. The children, on their part, perform the customary song and dance and ask for food and other gifts from elders during the festival.

According to the culture expert Tejeswor Babu Gongah, to express gratitude towards Mother Earth, the Newar community prepare the steamed confectionery and offer to Goddess Annapurna, (Mother Earth) and take it out after four days.

He said every activity, festival and ritual of the Newar community has glorified gender equality. “Yomari’s literal meaning denotes male and female sex.”

A Yomari is made of dough, which is shaped like a fish and a triangle and filled with a mixture of molasses and sesame seeds to make it delicious. “The fish Shaped Yomari called Bioyo, represents father and is indicative of the male sexual organ while the triangle-shaped Yomari called Miyo represents Mother and indicates the female reproductive organ,” said Gongah.

He added, “Every Jatra, Lingo, festivals and rituals of the Newari community indicate such kinds of gender equity and the necessity of male and female for the continuation of society.”

The Bioyo Yomari is filled with molasses and sesame seeds while the Miyo Yomari contains pulses mixed with Asafetida.

This delicious sweet is used not only for Yomari Punhi but also during the birthday celebrations of children aged 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12. This food item has great importance during different rituals of the community.

Children wear garland of Yomari during their birthday, while during marriage ceremony, pregnancy and Janko (celebration of old people’s birthday) it is used as gift.

“The celebration of this festival started along with the civilization of human beings. When they started to cultivate crops on the field, they began to understand its importance, which led to celebration of the festival of Yomari Punhi,” said Gongah.

A version of this article appears in print on December 13, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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