Yomari Punhi is a Newari festival marking the end of the rice harvest. It takes place in November/December during the full moon day of Thinlā (थिंला), the second month in the lunar Nepal Era calendar. Yomari Punhi, meaning the full moon of yomari, is one of the most popular Newar festivals and is observed every year during the full moon of December. A yomari is a confection of rice flour (from the new harvest) dough shaped like fish and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi.
On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go around neighborhood to beg yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival.In a yomari people keep chaku a chocolate-like food or khuwa a ricotta-cheese-like dairy product.It is very tasty. This is also one of the main festival celebrated only in newar community. It is said eating of yamari takes away cold. It is believed so long the tail of yamari as short the winter will be.
Story Behind Yomari Punhi
The festival is believed started from panchal nagar (Panauti). It is said Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with fresh yield of rice from their field. They came out with shape of yomari. The new food was distributed among the villagers. The food was liked by all, the bread was named yomari, which literally means ‘tasty bread’. The couple offered yamari to Kuber (god of weath) who was disguised and passing by. Kuber was happy and disclosing himself blessed the couple with wealth. He also declared that whosoever prepare Yomari in the form of gods and goddesses on the full moon day of Marga Sukla Purnima every year and observe four days of devotion to god, will gain wealth and prosperity.
The festival is celebrated for four days. All the four days people pray and worship. A big celebration is observed at night in Dhaneshwar Mahadev temple in Banepa. There is tradition of doing Deepavali at home. People worship god Kuber, Ganesh and goddess Subhadra in these 4 days. On the second day Yomari is prepared in the shape of gods and goddesses and stored inside the rice silo (bhakari) and worshiped. On the fourth day Yomari is eaten as Prasad and believed that those gods in the form of yamari enter to human body those worship and take yamari Prasad.
People distribute yomari and rice to yomari asking kids home to home. In this day goddess durga is worshiped as Dhanyalaxmi or Annapurna mata.
Yamori is compared with the earth. Two sides of Yamari are assumed as North and South Pole. The stuffing of brown cane sugar (chaku) and sesame seeds is regarded as Mahamaya (almighty God).
Sometimes, meat is also stuffed in yamari, that yamari is assumed as lord Ganesh. The yomari with black lentil is regarded as God Kumar. On the fourth and the final day the people eat the sweet yomari bread as Prasad and this marks the end of the festival Moreover, there’s a tradition in Newari culture, where mothers make garlands of Yomari and put to 2, 4, 6, 8, 10 and 12 year old kids on their birthday.