July 3, 2022, Sunday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Newar community observe Gunhupunhi

The Nepal Weekly
August 25, 2021

On the occasion of Shravan Shukla Purnima, people from the hill communities celebrated Rakshabandhan, Janai Purnima and Rishitarpani, while the Madhesi community celebrated Rakhi festival, and the Newar community observed Gunhupunhi festival.

One of the months in Nepal Sambat from Gunlathwa Paru to Gnulathwo Paru is Gunla — ninth month. Accordingly, it is called Gunhupunhi in Newari. On this occasion, the Newar community has a tradition of preparing a delicacy made from a mixture of nine different types of beans. It is said the same practice has spread from the Newar community to other communities as well. The dish is locally called quati and is made up of a mixture of at least nine different types of beans.

According to nutritionists, hot nutritious food enhances immunity and also makes the body warm during the rainy season and planting season in the Newar community.

There is a unique combination of food science and nature in Newari culture, they point out.

The Newar community celebrates seasonal festivals and eats food accordingly. The practice of eating quati on Shravan Shukla Purnima is an example in this regard.

On the occasion of Gunhupunhi, the Newar community, just like the Khas and Arya communities, has a tradition of tying the rakshasutra.

The Newar community, on the other hand, has a tradition of tying thread with panchatatva. It is believed to protect one from the fear of ghosts, phantoms, vampires and death. According to culture expert Om Dhaubhadel, the Newar community has a tradition of making the sacred thread by tantric method and tying them by Vedic method.

Kwati Day

Kwati, literally translates to hot (Kwa), ti (soup) in the Newari language. This hearty soup is made with 9 different sprouted beans and enjoyed as a delicacy on a specific day called Janai Purnima. Kwati has a historical significance in Nepali culture because when the food supply is or used to be scarce, kwati provided farmers with much need nourishment during monsoon’s busy crop-planting season. The humble soup can be enjoyed all year long besides Janai Purnima as it warms you inside out and is great for recovery during postnatal.

Janai Purnima is observed on full moon day in the month of Shrawan. This festival is celebrated by Hindus all over the globe. On this day, Hindu man, especially the Brahmans and Chettris perform their annual change of Janai (Janai is a cotton string worn across the chest by Hindu males) which they are given after the ceremony call Bhartabanda (literally means: tied by rules). In the morning of Raksha Bandhan, the people go to Brahman who ties the yellow thread around the wrist intoning a quick prayer which goes “Thus I tie the Raksha around your wrist, the same which bound the arm of the mighty Bali, King of the Danavas. May its protection be eternal’, which means Janai is supposed to protect the person who wears it.

Kwati bean is a mixture of beans such as mung bean, soybean, red kidney bean, black lentils, black eyed-peas, fava beans, chickpeas, cowpeas, and green peas. You can use an equal mix of different beans mentioned above but variety adds a lovely texture, flavours, and nutrition to the soup. Typically, kwati is made by sprouting beans which takes 3-4 days and I personally prefer the sprouted version as it’s nostalgic and more nutritious. Generally, beans and grains when sprouted are much easier to digest. Beans contain oligosaccharides called complex sugar which is hard to digest as humans do not produce the enzyme alpha-galactosidase needed to properly break it down. Presoaking and sprouting beans increase the production of enzymes to help with better digestion as well as improve the bioavailability and absorption of different vitamins, minerals, antioxidants etc.