Newari communities celebrate “Yomari Punhi” on Thursday

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Photo: Xinhua/Sunil Sharma

Kathmandu, December 8. The Newar community living in different parts of the country including the Kathmandu Valley is celebrating ‘Yomari Punhi’ today with great pomp and joy. ‘Yomari’ is a special type of sweet dish made by placing ‘chaku’ inside a loaf of rice flour. The Jyapu community has been celebrating this day as ‘Jyapu Day’.

Yomari has a special significance in the Newar community. Yomaris are one of the indispensable dishes for Newars, especially on occasions like birthdays. Cultural activist Om Prasad Dhaubhadel said that the Yomari is an indispensable dish on the occasion of a person’s birthday on even numbers (such as a two-year, four-year birthday).

“In the Newar community, Yomari is made and offered to god as a part of the custom while one builds a new house, performs Dhuri Puja, child’s birthday on even numbers upto 12 years and on ‘janku’ (celebration of coming of age of old people).”

Dhaubhadel added, “Yomari is considered to be the symbol of Kubera, Goddess Annapurna and Lord Ganesha. There is a belief that there shall be no shortage of food in the house when the yomari is eaten on the full moon day by offering it to god with other grains. Therefore, on this day, the Newar community makes Kuber, Ganesh, Laxmi, Jyapu, Jyapuni, Khyah, Mahadev, Parvati and other figures with Yomari loaf and eat yomari only after one puts them in the dhukukotha (dhukuti), the storage room.”

On the day of Yomari Punhi, the Newar community has a tradition of singing ‘Yomari Vaka’ in their villages and neighborhoods. They then ask for Yomaris and also collect funds for the development of the community. The songs which used to resound in the courtyards of the Newar community, has slowly started to disappear due to modernization.

According to Dhaubhadel, the tradition of singing and asking for Yomaris is a tradition that has been going on since the Lichhavi period. He said that this practice has been mentioned in the genealogy since the time of Anshuvurma. He says that with the advent of modernity, local art and culture are disappearing and the practice of asking for Yomaris is also on the verge of extinction.

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