The Newar community is observing ‘Yomari Punhi’, the festival of full moon Tuesday while the Kirat community, who chiefly reside in eastern Nepal, are also celebrating ‘Sakela Udhauli’ festival from today.
‘Yomari Punhi’ holds special significance for Newar community and is celebrated in the December month. A Yomari is a sweetmeat of rice flour made from the new harvest dough shaped like fig and filled with brown sugarcane known as Sakkhar and sesame seeds, which is steamed. This delicacy is the chief item on the menu during the post harvest celebration of Yomari Punhi.
According to Newari tradition, on this festival people of Kathmandu valley offer worship to Annapurna, the Goddess of food grains , for the rice harvest. Small kids go to their neighbour to ask Yomari from household wives in the evening. On this day sacred masked dances are also perfomed in the villages of Hari Shidhi at Thecho. The Newar community also celebrate the day as Jyapu Divas (Farmers’ Day).
Similarly, the ‘Sakela Udhaul’ festival gives a glimpse to the agricultural life-style of Kirat people, as it falls during the harvesting season. The other main festival celebrated by Kirats is ‘Sakela Ubhauli’ which falls on the beginning of the plantation season. Each festival lasts for 15 days.
Different clans under the community like Rai, Limbu, Yakkha and Sunuwar residing in the Kathmandu valley celebrate this festival with much excitement and fanfare. The festival is also celebrated in various parts of the country including Bhojpur, Khotang, Dhankuta and Dharan and also foreign countries like Sikkim, United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Australia and the United States.
The literal meaning of Udhauli is going down. During winter, the birds and animals in upper hills migrate to lower lands. It is from this process that the nature-loving community got the festival’s name-Udhauli.
Meanwhile, Hindus are also celebrating Dhanya Purnima to mark the conclusion of the rice harvest season across the country on Tuesday.
The government has declared a national holiday on the occasion of Yomari Punhi, Sakela and Dhanya Purnima.