Yomari is a popular Newari dish consumed especially on Yomari Punhi and special occasions like birthdays. It is derived from the word Yau and Mari. Yau in Newari means loved and Mari means bread. So, Yomari literally means the bread loved by all. By the name, Yomari has become one of the beloved Newari dishes and is served as a dish in several restaurants.
Yomari Punhi is the festival observed by offering rice to the goddess of grain, Annapurna, and making a sweet delicacy Yomari. On this day, families get together to make Yomari, and young people used to go around the neighborhood singing the Yomari song and asking for Yomari. People make various shapes of Yomari, including shapes of gods and goddesses such as Laxmi, Ganesh, Kubera, and Saraswati, and place it in a large grain basket known as Bhakari as an offering to the gods, thanking them for a good harvest.
THE YOMARI SONG
योमरी च्वाम्मु उक्के दुने चाकु ( Yomaris are pointed and filling is sweet)
ब्युमा ल्यासेय मब्युमा बुरिचा (If you give me bread, you are pretty if not you are ugly)
Children go around singing this Yomari song and asking for the Yomari in the neighborhood.
HISTORY OF YOMARI
There are different stories regarding the origin of Yomari. Most people believe that Yomari originated from the married couple in Panauti who made this dish and distributed it to the villagers. The villagers loved the dish and thus, named it Yomari. The couple also happened to offer this dish to Kuber, God of wealth who was disguised as a beggar. Kuber was happy with the couple’s generosity and blessed them with wealth and prosperity. He proclaimed that whoever prepares Yomari with the shapes of gods and goddesses on the full moon day of Marga Sukla Purnima will be blessed with wealth and prosperity.
Other historians believe that the Yomari could be adopted from the Tibetian cuisine as they have similar dishes to Yomari. Some believe it could be adopted from the Indian dish Modaka which is prepared the same way. Modaka is prepared as an offering for Lord Ganesha in Ganesh Chaturthi.
YOMARI SHAPES AND FILLINGS
Yomari is prepared with rice flour, shaped like fig, and filled with Chaku or Khuwa. Chaku is mixed with sesame seeds and shredded coconut. Yomari is also filled with minced meat or black bean paste, locally called Suluju.
There are different hypotheses regarding the shape of Yomari. Some refer to it as the earth and two tails as north and south pole, some refer to it as a fish, and others as major. People also believe it is shaped as Tahsi ( Bimiro). Tahsi is worshipped as a deity in Newar culture and is a must fruit during Mha Puja. Tahsi represents longevity, wealth, prosperity, and fertility.
Some people also regard Yomari is a symbolic combination of sex. People typically make Bayo and Mayo Yomari. Bayo Yomari symbolizes the male whereas Mayo with a fish-like tail is considered female and represents Father and mother. The next day after Yomari Punhi is Matina Paaru aka Newar’s Valentine’s day. The culture of Yomari Fonegu is linked with love and romance as people use it as an excuse to meet their lovers.
IMPORTANCE OF YOMARI PUNHI
Yomari Punhi holds huge importance for the Newars as it marks the beginning of the winters and the end of the harvest season. The farmers work hard during the harvest season and Yomari is prepared to award themselves with the sweet dish for all the hard work they have done. After the long harvest period, they get together and make Yomari with family. It is also an appreciation for the hard work done by the farmers to produce rice in the field.
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