Yomari Punhi: Marking the End of Rice Harvest


Yomari Punhi [/jɔʳmə’ɾi: pʊ’nhɪ/] in crude meaning, is the “full moon of Yomari;” however, its factual meaning can be speculated from the compound noun, “Yo” means “like(d) “ and “mari” means “bread.” So, the term could be translated as “[I; as understood] like(d) bread.” Newāh people group alone commemorates this festival on the full moon, also known as Frost moon of the late fall in the month of December every year. The celebration of Yomari marks the end of rice harvest for Newā:(r)[a].

"Yomari"
Photo Source: Jwajalapa.com

Newā: make Yomari out of rice flour from the new harvest. They would wash rice with water until whitish color disappears from it. Then, it is dried in the sun for couple of days before they make it flour. The dough from the newly gleaned rice is used to make it. It looks like fig in shape. The broader part of the Yomari is wrought cylindrical hollow cone shape in order to fill it with teel [/ti:l/][1] and Chāku [/t∫ákú/].[2] Then, they are steamed.

Traditionally, the steamer used to be a clay vessel called Potāsi [/pɔ’tɑ’si:/] with half an inch holes at the bottom. Yomari is placed on the underlaid straw. Now days, modern steamers made of aluminum and steel have replaced the traditional clay vessel.

This very day, family assemble together and worship Anna Devi [/ə’nnə dε’vi/][3], in their home and offer Yomari along with recently reaped rice to her in a Fă [/fɜ/][4]. Children visit door to door in their neighborhood singing songs handed-down by the forefathers in the evening, as the lights turn on. Housewives offer Yomari and upon receiving it, children bless the household instead. [b] On the fourth day of celebration, the lady of the house reclaims the Fă and rice grain thus followed by morning worship. She shares Yomari as prasād to household. This is called “Mari Kokāyegu [/ɱə’ɽɩ kɔ’kɑ’jεgυ/].”[5] In this manner, Yomari festival ends.

If someone has passed recently or within the same year, the family of deceased does not keep this festival. Yomari do not remain Yomari for them. There will be no Yomari steaming in that family. However, they can make Lhochā mari [/ɭɧɔ’ʧɑ ɱə’ɽɩ/][6].

Yomari has been playing a significant role in the Newāh culture. It is used during Dhau-Bajee Nakawane[7], to Jangku[8]. It is also used during Anna Prāshan[9] and birthday.

Reference:

[a] Tom Hoodwatch, Footprint Nepal Handbook. (Illinois: Passport Books/Contemporary Publishing Group, 1999), Print.

[b] Bandana Rai, Gorkhas: the Warrior Race. (Kathmandu: Kalpaz Publications, 2009) ISBN-10: 8178357763; ISBN-13: 978-8178357768. Print.

Footnotes:

[1] Sesame seeds.

[2] Molasses; thick dark syrup made of sugar cane juice.

[3] goddess of harvest in Hindu mythology.

[4] Ancient measuring pot.

[5] Reclaiming bread.

[6] Lhocha mari literally means “rock bread” because it is made in rectangular shape. Apparently, it is plain bread without any ingredients, and more looks like a flat rock.

[7] Celebration of pregnancy; for better understanding, we can compare with western baby-shower; however, it is more than western one-day party to celebrate baby-shower. Parents and relatives of bride are heavily involved since she conceives.

[8] A ritual to mark the longevity of late old-age people.

[9] In Hindu and Buddhist tradition, infant rice-feeding ceremony is celebrated when babies turn 6 months old. People do not feed solid food to babies until afterwards. This day, babies are introduced to solid food for the first time by given rice pudding.

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