Nepal has a diverse culture and tradition within a small geographical area. Each area has its own unique cultural identity and traditional practices. Kathmandu valley is not an exception and has been a breeding ground for the development of culture and tradition of the Newars.
Newars have many festivals that they celebrate all year long. ‘Yomari Poornima’ is one of them, which is celebrated on the Full Moon day of Mangsir (December). It is celebrated to enjoy the end of the harvesting of new crops and to worship the new crop. They make ‘Yomari’, literally meaning ‘a roti (kind of bread) which is liked’ to mark this special day. It is made of rice flour which is kneaded into dough and converted into spiral shapes. Meat, chaku (brown cane sugar) or khuwa (a sweet) is stuffed according to choice and steamed. It is then offered to the God as a mark of appreciation for good harvest.
Yomari Punhi -meaning full moon of yomari-one of the popular Newar festivals is observed every year during the full moon of December.A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post-harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi. On this full moon day, people of the Kathmandu Valley offer worship to Annapurna, the goddess of grains, for the rice harvest. Groups of kids go neighborhood to beg yomari cakes from housewives in the evening. Sacred masked dances are performed in the villages of Hari Siddhi and Thecho at the southern end of the Valley to mark the festival.
Newar communities, upon munching a mouthful of yomari, a sweet dish, await the end of their four days of devotion of god, following which they will be blessed with wealth, according to their belief. A yomari is a confection of rice-flour (from the new harvest)dough shaped like fig and filled with brown cane sugar and sesame seeds, which is then steamed.The people prepare yomaris, in the form of gods and goddesses such as Kumar, Ganesh, Laxmi and Kuber. In keeping with the culture, parents bless children from two to twelve years who are then offered yomaris. The children on the other hand perform the customary song and dance and ask for food and other gifts from the elders during the festival.
The festival is said to have started from panchal nagar(present day Panauti). Myth has it that Suchandra and Krita, a married couple, first experimented with fresh yield of rice from their field. And what took shape turned out came to be known as yomari. The new delicacy was eventually distributed among the villagers. As the food was liked by all, the bread was named yomari, which literally means ‘tasty bread’. The myth further states that on the same day the couple offered the god of wealth, Kuber, the new delicacy, who was passing by in a disguise. Following this Kuber disclosed , 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 festival is celebrated on the second day when prayers are offered during which the yomaris are 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 practise also marks the end of the festival.
The Yomari is also distributed to the friends and relatives on this day. Children also form groups and go door to door singing traditional songs and asking for Yomari. So, it is also seen as a cultural and social festival which binds the people together.