February 5, 2023, Sunday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Newars observe Yomari Punhi and Jyapu Diwas

The Nepal Weekly
December 6, 2022
Yomari in making

The Newar community is all prepared to observe ‘YomariPunhi’, the post harvest festival Thursday while the Kirat community, who mainly reside in eastern Nepal, also celebrated ‘Sakela Udhauli’ festival with fanfare. The ‘Sakela Udhauli’ festival gives a glimpse to the agricultural life-style of Kirat people, as it falls during the harvesting season. ‘Yomari Punhi’ holds special significance for Newar community and is celebrated on full moon which falls mostly in the month of December.

A Yomari is a steamed sweet food dish made of new harvest rice flour dough in a shape of sharp point at lower end and swelled and locked at the upper side. It is filled with brown sugar candy known as Chaku and paste of sesame seeds. This is offered to Annapurna, the Goddess of food grains for the rice harvest. Small kids go to their neighbours to ask Yomari from households in the evening, Yomari cooked at one’s home is gifted to neighbours and relatives as well. The Newars observe religious functions in many places on YomariPunhi. On this day sacred masked dances are also performed in the villages of HariShidhi andT hecho in Lalitpur.

The Newar community, especially the farmers of the valley also celebrate the day as JyapuDiwas or Farmers’ Day. Though Jyapu Diwas has been observed lately since 2002, Jyapu Diwas has become a festival in addition to Yomari making. Most of the Jyapus of the valley take part in the cultural procession organized in the Kathmandu core city with traditional music and attires. The political leaders, litterateurs, social workers, business people also take parts in the Jyapu Diwas celebration.

In the Jyapu Diwas events organised in the past, Prime Minister participated in the function as the chief guest and other high dignitaries. The main function usually organized at Basantapur at Hanumandhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu. The chief guest addresses mass meeting and appreciate the cultural heritage of the country and the value of contributions of the local activitistsin preserving cultural heritage.

Yomari in different shapes

The Jyapus

The farmer community of the Kathmandu Valley is believed to be the aborigines. A section of them are thought to be decedents of Yalambar, the Kirat King in the ancient time who went to take part in the Great Mahabharat battle between Pandava and Kauravas but he had happened to be an audience despite of all his martial abilities. His character has been elaborated in Mahabharat, the great epic as Eklavya. The idol of AkashBhairava in a big temple at Indrachok in Kathmandu even now is worshipped as the great ancestor. The god AkashBhairava is worshipped by all.

The hard working Jyapus are the resident farmers of the valley since the time immemorable. They had not only cultivated the land but also enriched culture and traditions. Craftmanship in many household products, music, dances are their contributions. They take part in almost all festivals and fanfares observed in the valley. Their presence is a must at many such occasions.

All Newars are not Jyapus

The Newar community does not belong to one single clan or caste or origin. They are a mix-up of various origins joined to be Newars. People come from many directions in search of opportunities in Kathmandu Valley in the ancient period as this place was used to link Tibet to Indian territories. Traders and saints reside here for short time or permanently in quest of their business or meditations. All those who resided here for permanently turned as Newars. They learnt the native language, performed the culture and behaved to be fit for all reasons. The new comers were welcomed here with appreciation of the culture they belong and parts of such assets are mixed to the Kathmandu Valley culture and to enrich the heritage.

Newars are divided vertically keeping in view that the Buddhists have Bajracharyas as priests and Hindus have Rajopadyays as their priests. Moreover, there are number of castes in Buddhist and Hindu Newars. No dispute yet had occurred in name of the caste and priests in the Kathmandu Valley. Jyapus, who cultivated land and kept traditions as stated above in the past are one such caste who enjoyed being with all such castes. In recent decades they had been emerged in many such as administration, health service, trades and industries. Farming trade in the valley has been practiced by other than Jyapus also. But they are not included in the Jyapu communities by one or other reasons. Therefore, all Newars are not Jyapus. (R. P. Narayan)