Yamari Purne – Yo Mari Punhi – Dhanya Purnima
Today is Yamari Punhi also known or called as Yamari Purnima or Yomari Purne or Yamari Punhi which is an important festival, especially for the Newar farming community, Yomri is also called Yamari. In Newar Community (Newa: Community), this festival holds a very important significance. In the language of Newa:, Yomari is the favorite bread and Punhi means the full moon. Yomari / Yamari is thus a festival of the Newa tradition of making a special kind of bread made with the flour (dough) of the new rice which has entered the house from the field after the harvest. Thus, to celebrate the entering of the new harvest into the house as a celebration a special kind of bread is made and after offering it to the gods, the ancestral gods, and the ancestors, it is consumed.
Introduction to Yamari
According to the Nepal Sambat calendar, “Thilla: – the second month of Nepal Sambat (Paush / Magh of Bikram Sambat), this festival is known and celebrated in the Newa society as “Thinla punhi” also. Similarly, it is customary to write Yamari as Ya: Mari or Yomari, but in whatever it is written or called, this food made on this important festival of the Newar community is very sweet and now the practice of making and eating Yomari by other communities also is increasing day by day. Taking these things into consideration, Yomari’s popularity has highlighted the fact that not only is Yamari popular in New Community but, other communities too besides them also are interested in this delicacy.
From the new paddy of that year grown in the fields of every Newar farmer family made it into rice flour and yomri / yamari is made from this rice flour. In this festival of the Newar (Newa:) community, pouring hot water in the flour a lump is made and a beak is made on one side and the dough is made hollow with the help of the fingers which, after putting molasses mixed with sesame seed inside it is closed. While closing, one part of Yamari is given the shape of a fishtail or any other favorite shape. The making of this delicacy is called Pochu (“पोचुं” ) in Newa: Language. Then yamari is cooked with steam, as it is cooked in steam it can be considered as healthy, tasty and healthy food and is considered suitable for everyone.
According to the Newar community, winter also starts today. For the same reason, experts say that the practice of eating yamari avoids the effects of the cold winter. However, nowadays it can be seen that Yamari is becoming popular in various places in the city market as a popular snack as a hot yamari meal being made by adding ginger and garlic along with lentils, sesame seeds, meat, and khuwa (kind of a cheesy food made by milk). According to the entire Newa: consuming yamari made using ginger and garlic with lentils, sesame seeds, meat, khuwa, etc., reduces the body getting cold from the winter. But, nowadays, people are suffering from diabetes, constipation, etc., so consuming yamari made using molasses, and sesame seeds should be avoided, and if one desires so then one should consume those made with lentils instead.
Yomri Fwan Waneghu, another festival connected with yomari Punhi
According to the Nepal Samvat calendar, “Thilla ” there is an age-old tradition known as Yomri Fwan Waneghu day. Yomri Fwan Waneghu falls a day after Dhanya Purnima on the day of Paush Krishna Paksha Pratipada, a special and original Newa love day called Matina Paru is celebrated in and by Newa society. Yomri Fwan Waneghu is thus, connected somehow with “Yomari Punhi” in some way.
In the traditional days, topics such as love were forbidden in society, so the ‘Yomri Fwan Waneghu’ culture began to be celebrated a day after Yomari Purne /Yomari Punhi. This day, i.e. Yomri Fwan Waneghu was used as a “cruising day” at that time, and lovers would meet each other secretly on the day after Yomri Fwan Waneghu. During those times, when there were no mobile, phones, internet, etc. to exchange information like there days. Therefore, decisions about a conversation or meeting time, etc. with one”s beloved were made on the day of Yomri Fwan Waneghu while singing different kinds of songs and asking for Yomari as gifts.
Myth of Yamari
Similarly, there is a myth associated with Yamari Purne / Yomari Punhi, which gives some information about the use of Yamari, as well as the origin of the practice of consuming this sweet food. According to the legend, a (Mahajan) moneylender named Suchandra used to live in the “Panchal kingdom”, now known as “Panauti”.
Hearing that Mahajan Suchandra was very generous, the god of wealth, God Kuber, in the guise of a poor man, as a beggar came to their house. The Mahajans on the morning of the full moon day (थिल्ला पुन्हिका) after the daily purification, bathing, etc in the early morning used to make a kind of bread using molasses and sesame from new rice flour and keeping it in a Bhakari (a big round vessel especially made of bamboo) used to worship different deities including Lakshmi (Goddess of Prosperity) and Kuber (God of wealth) When Lord Kuber god of wealth came in disguise of a beggar at the couples house, Suchandra’s wife welcomed Kuber with a lot of respect as possible, served him the best meal and the special kind of bread mixed with sesame seeds made from new rice flour. Then Lord Kuvera was very pleased with their welcome gesture and showed them his true nature. Then, giving a bimiro (Citron) in the hand of Suchanda’s wife, he also taught them the method of worshiping the paddy (Dhan / grain) in the paddy Bhakari from that day i.e today onwards.
In this way, Kuber, the god of wealth, very much pleased returned by making Mahajan even richer. This incident slowly was known by the people of the town. In this way, as the people of the town also came to know about this incident. They also started to make Yomari from new paddy flour, put it in the Bhakari worship it, and all other deities as well as their ancestors, etc. After four days of taking the yamari out of the Bhakari, finishing the procedure of worshipping their ancestors, their ancestral gods, etc they consumed it. In this way, the tradition of making Yamari, worshipping it in Bhakari later to consume it, and to distribute it to those who come to ask for some was also established.
From that day onwards, i.e today Suchandra’s wife started to use the method taught by Lord Kuber to make flour from freshly imported rice of their own farm, with which she made idols of Sri Lakshmi, Sri Kuber, Sri Ganesh, and Shri Kumar in the shape of Bimiro (Citron). Because of this story, today, also the belief that the family can become prosperous by doing so is still very famous. Due to this reason, it is customary to consider and celebrate this day as Dhanya Purnima. Nowadays, as in the past, not everyone had a Bhakari at home, but instead, as everyone has a rice storage container at home, people worship that container considering it as a Bhakari during this day to celebrate Dhanya Purnima. The date on the full moon of Margashirsha Shukla Pakchya is called Dhanya Purnima. Dhanya Purnima is celebrated to express gratitude to Mother Earth after the main crop of paddy sown in Asar is harvested during the month of Mangsir. On this day, mother earth is worshiped by expressing gratitude for the paddy given by her. This full moon day, which is celebrated with the wish that “the paddy in Bhakari should never be short and always full of riches”, is the reason why this day is called ‘Dhanya Purnima’.
In recent years, the Jyapu community has begun celebrating this day as “Jyapu Day.” Today, the hill communities living in hilly areas and other places celebrate and observe this day by worshiping ancestral deities (kul devta), Cowshed, and Gaidu worship. Whereas the Kirat community celebrates this day as “Udhauli Parwa”. This festival, based on agricultural civilization, has been celebrated as a sign of happiness brought by new crops as well as a sign that people, animals, and birds descending from the higher ground to the valley to avoid a cold, chilly winter. In this festival which falls on the full moon day of Marga (Magh) Shukla Pakchya, Dhanya Parvat is donated and Dhanya Lakshmi is worshiped. On the day of Dhanya Purnima, a grand fair is held in Dhaneshwar, Ananta Lingeshwar and today the birth anniversary of Avadhut Dattatraya is also celebrated. Hence, this day, today is known by various names like Yamari Punhi, Yomari Purne, Yamari Purnima, Dhanya Purnima, and Jyapu Diwas. According to the mythology of the Panchal kingdom, nowadays Panauti is the place of origin of Yamari the process of making and recognizing Panauti as a Yamari City is also underway.
According to the Newa tradition, today it is customary for children, including elders, to go to nearby houses and sing a special song and ask for Yamari. But, with the passage of time, this trend has gradually reached the point of extinction. The name of the song still sometimes heard is known as ““त्य: छिंत्य:”:- Tya Chintya” and the lyrics of the song is given below.
त्य:छिं त्य: वकछीं त्य: लातापाता कुलिचाँ जुस त्यः ।
य:मरी च्वामु उकिई दुने हामु, ब्युसा माकु मब्युसा फाकु ।।
ब्युम्ह ल्यासे मब्युम्ह बुरि कुति ।
त्य:छिं त्य: वकछीं त्य: लातापाता कुलेचाँ जुछिंत्य: ।
योमरी च्वामु उकी दुने हाकु, ब्युसा माकु मब्युसा फाकु ।।
ब्युसाल्यासे मब्युस बुढी कुटी ।। ।
It is customary for the homeowner to bid farewell to the visitors by donating paddy and Dakshina (a small amount of money) according to their ability. In the non-Newari community, it is customary to play the Deusi bhailo during the festival as Tihar, in the Newa community, songs such as “Tya: Chhin Tya:-त्य:छिं त्य” and while the tradition of playing is not as great as it used to be, to some extent it is still in vogue.
According to their original identity, Nepalis who believe in Sanatan Dharma celebrate many days on different dates in a year as a special annual festival to give the original identity of their caste and community. Thus, there is no doubt that the various communities have been celebrating the annual festivals according to their original identities and are not only giving their own identity but also showing the special identity of the country as a whole. Thus, among the various festivals of different communities, “Yamari Punhi” is also an important festival celebrated by the newa: society. Similarly, today various other communities celebrate Dhanya-Purne (Dhanya-Purnima) on this day according to their own customs, traditions, and culture. As Dhanya Purnima is a special festival like other festivals, a big fair is held at Dhaneshwar temple in Banepa on this occasion. In the same way, the followers of Sanatan Dharma of Northern Nepal worship Gaidu, the Kiranti community worships the Udhauli festival and some other communities worship Kuldev or Kuldevi (Kulayan). Even among Buddhists today, it is customary to go to various chaityas and monasteries, including the Buddhist stupa, Swayambhu, and the wooden Swayambhu (Kathe syambu, also known as Sri Gha: Chaitya), Baudha Stupa and pray to Lord Buddha.
In short, today, in the Bhakari or vessel for storing new grains and rice, yomari is kept along with small flat leaf-shaped “ल्होँचामरी- Lhonchamari” (A lump of boiled rice flour without molasses) with idols of Goddess Lakshmi, Lord Ganesh, Lord Kuver, Nanglo, Sukunda, the person holding kucho, panas, turtles, etc and the Bhakari is worshipped. According to popular belief and religious beliefs, offering yamari to a Bhakari or grain store brings wealth and grain. After four days of Bhakari and Bhandar is re-worshiped, permission is sought to accept Yamari, flowers, etc., offered on the first day to the deities including Lakshmi and Kuber, a process known as “Swan Kwakay:- स्वाँ क्वकाय” in Newari. It is customary to take yamari and offerings such as flowers etc. and distribute it among all the families. It is also a very old Newari custom to invite the married daughter to her mother’s house and feed her with yamari as an offering for good health and a healthy baby. According to the newa: community’s belief, from today onwards, the days are getting longer like the beak of Yamari and the nights are getting shorter like sesame seeds. The community also considers Yamari to be the shape of the earth, with one beak as the north pole and the other beak as the south pole, and the mixture of molasses, sesame seeds, etc inside it is considered as “lava” an extremely hot liquid of rocks, stones, etc. inside the earth.
In this way, the festival of consuming Yamari once a year is not only important on this day, but also on many other special occasions. It is customary to put a mixture of sesame seeds and molasses in the yamari offered to the gods and goddesses, while other special occasions are also used when yamari are made as garlands. Therefore, on various occasions, instead of sesame and molasses, it is customary to keep five akshatas (grains of rice) as a symbol of Panchatatva. In newa: culture, Special occasions, such as birthdays of a child, pregnancy of a married daughter, etc. considered special occasions. In the Newar community, even on children’s birthdays, it is customary to make a garland of yamari and worship the birthday child wearing the yamari garland. In the community, it is customary to make a garland of Yamari and wear it every year until the child reaches 12 years of age.
Similarly, some people perform this ritual when their children reach the age of 2 or 4. It can also be seen that some people worship the birthday child with a yamari garland on every birthday for 12 consecutive years. On the child’s birthday, when he reaches the age of two, he wears two yamari garlands, when he reaches the age of four, he wears four yamari garlands, and so on. Similarly, during the pregnancy of a married daughter, before giving birth to a child, it is customary for her family to go and feed her Dahi Chiura (धौबजि नक: वनेगु), which is also a custom in other communities as well not just in Newari communities. Thus, it is customary to bring Yamari even on the occasion of feeding Dahi Chiura.
In the same way, whether it is the construction of a new house or the construction of a new temple, the practice of worshiping and throwing yamari from the top of a newly built house or temple can be seen as an important practice in many places. However, these rules seem to vary from place to place. Similarly, before pulling the chariot of red Machhindranath of Patan and the chariot of white Machhindranath of Kathmandu, it has been a tradition to throw down a Yamari from the top of the chariot before starting the pulling ceremony of the chariot. Yamari has social, cultural, and religious significance within the New: Community. However, even within the Newa community, there are some casets, and they have Dewali (yearly special day of offering to family deity:- kuldev/ kul devi puja) therefore, their tradition is that they should not cook yamari on that day, i.e. on the day of yomari punhi, but other days they can make it and consume it.
Now Nepalis living in different foreign lands are continuing their traditions and preserving their culture in foreign lands also and celebrate their various festivals as they used to do in their own country. This may be the reason why the Newa communities living abroad also have started celebrating Yamari Purnima even abroad. For example, the Newari community living in Israel has been celebrating the Newari community’s national holiday, Yamari Punhi, every year for the past few years, which is organized by the “National Newa: Khala Israel”. Thus, In this way, the National Newa community established with the aim of preserving the culture and traditions of the Newar community in foreign lands will surely continue to celebrate different festivals in other countries as well. And this will be a big lesson for other Nepali communities to follow as well for preserving the tradition, culture, etc.
But the irony is that the new generation from the urban areas and some of the new generation have abandoned their traditions of festivals like Yamari Punhi and Dhanya purne etc. But, it is definitely not good for any community to stop celebrating its customs, traditions, and festivals, because by doing so, the upcoming new generation will be losing their real identity which can be a big disaster not just for that particular community but for the whole nation as a whole. To Read this article in the Nepali Language please click here.