Newah Community of Nepal Observes ‘Yomari Punhi’

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Some of the participants at the Yomari Punhi festival.

By Uttam Makaju

Toronto: The Newah people of Nepal living around the Greater Toronto Area observed ‘Yomari Punhi” a post-harvest festival virtually.

Inaugurating the event,  Guthi’s President Prakash Pradhan said  that celebrating the event virtually was not the choice of Guthi but because of the global pandemic. However, it would definitely help promote  Newah culture in Canada, he pointed out.

Guthi General secretary Bimal Shrestha welcomed the guests and hoped that Guthi would be able to celebrate next year with a big gathering.

World Newah Organization President Season Shrestha lauded Canadian Newa Guthi for conducting Newah festivals to preserve Newah culture in Canada. President Shrestha further added that the unique Newah culture should be shared among the people around the world.

Ph. D. student on Newah Buddhism at  Toronto university Ms. Amber Moore spoke about the nuances of Newah culture in relation to lifestyles, tradition  and food. Ms. Moore also highlighted her experiences during her study in Nepal and demonstrated the delicious “Yomari” which she made at home.

Nanda Maharjan shed light on the origin of “Yamari” in historical aspects. Guthi’s Vice President Uttam Makaju explained the story of  “Yomari Punhi”  and its connection with nature, agriculture,  life philosophy, and  “Yomari” being used in rituals like “Dhaubaji nakegu” (baby shower), kids’ birthdays, “Chhen pooja” (house warming) and  “Jya: Janku” (aging ceremonies on specific ages) etc. Iit carries the special values in the life rituals of Newah people , he added.

“The festival has similarity with Thanksgiving Day as people offer Yomari  made of newly harvested rice to God as a token of thanks”, Makaju explained.

“Yomari”, a fig-shaped steamed bread made of rice flour stuffed with molasse and sesame, is specially prepared and eaten during the festival which happens in winter season after harvesting rice. It is believed that after the hard work of harvesting rice in the winter season, the rice flour combined with molasses and sesame help revive the energy and keep the body warm.

Guthi’s Secretary Dr. Prajwal Pradhan released a documentary on making “Yomari” for Guthi’s young members and adults.

Dr. Pradhan also had a trivia event on “Yomari” and its history for youngsters.

Guthi’s Youth Committee members Ayushna Shrestha and Avis Shrestha explained what the festival meant to them and how it was helping them to transfer Newah culture to the younger generation. At the end of the program Guthi’s Public Relation Coordinator Suman Rajbanshi thanked all for their active participation. Later, the guests were entertained with  songs and traditional music by local artists.