Yomari Punhi or Yomari Purnima is a Newari Festival marking the end of the rice harvest. It is a harvest festival celebrated by the Newari people in Nepal.
The festival, Yomari Punhi gets its name from Yomari, a delicacy of the Newar community in Nepal. It is a steamed dumpling that consists of an extent covering of rice flour and an inner content of sweet substances such as Chaku, concentrated sugarcane juice, jaggery, ghee, and nuts.
The Yomari Punhi festival is said to have started from Panchal Nagar, now known as Panauti. According to the legend, Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with a fresh yield of rice from their field. And what took shape came to be known as Yomari.
The legend further states that on the same day the couple offered the god of wealth, Kubera, who was passing by in a disguise. Following this, Kubera revealed his real identity and blessed the couple with wealth. He also declared that whoever will prepare Yomari in the form of gods and goddesses on the full moon of December and observe four days of devotion to god, will get rid of poverty.
The new delicacy, Yomari was eventually distributed among the villagers. As the food was liked by all, the bread was named Yomari, which means ‘tasty bread’ in Newari language.
This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. Groups of kids go to the neighborhood to requesting for Yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Harisiddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the valley to mark the festival.
The festival of Yomari Punhi is celebrated on the second day of the full moon when prayers are offered with Yomari. Yomari is stored and not eaten on that very day. On the fourth and the final day, the people belonging to the Newar community consume the sweet bread as a gift from gods and this practice also marks the ending of the festival.
If you’re thinking about making Yomari this year or just want to learn how to make Yomari, here’s a short video for you.