Yomari Punhi is a Newari festival that celebrates the first full moon of winter, wishes everyone prosperity for the coming year, and also marks the end of a successful rice harvest. Punhi stands for full moon and Yomari stands for tasty bread. Hence Yomari Punhi – Tasty Bread of the Full Moon. Fortunately for me, Lok – the fellow who runs the accommodation I am staying in is Newari so I got to celebrate Yomari Punhi with his family.
Celebrations involve the woman of the house making yomari for the household. This explains why there were no women at yoga yesterday morning. I just thought they got sense and stayed in bed on such a cold morning. Celebrations also include serving yomari to any visiting children from the neighbourhood. I guess we counted as “visiting children” so got treated to yomari for breakfast, and more after dinner if we wanted. A few kids from the neighbourhood came later in the day for their treats, kind of like Halloween without the dress up but they did sing a song. Too cute! I did not have my camera at the ready so missed a shot, I really will have to bring my camera with me and have it at the ready all the time. I’ll try to take more photos Barb!
Also, remember I told you about the goats on the roof of the bus, I saw a few more being unceremoniously thrown into the trunk (boot) of the bus too. There were a whole slew of goats on the move over the weekend. I know why now ….. goats are sacrificed on the streets to celebrate Yomari Punhi. I did not witness the slaughtering as I was at work, I just saw the post-slaughter evidence on the streets, similar to Tihar festival when I was last in Kathmandu in 2011. Apologies to all you animal lovers reading this, it’s the way it is here. Even I (who as everyone knows is not a great lover of anything that moves & breathes from the animal kingdom) felt for the two goats who looked so regal atop of the bus. They at least had an adventure before their time was up.
So what are yomari? Here’s my take on how they are made. But first of all, check out this photo so you have some idea of what I am talking about.
The wrappings are made of rice flour and hot water. The dough is made fairly robustly so that it can withstand holding the filling. Once the dough is made, you take a small ball of dough poke your finger through the dough to make a hollow, making sure to taper off the tail of the dumpling yet still leaving enough space in the hollow for the filling. The filling is made by dry frying sesame and coconut, and mixing it with warmed molasses. The filling is then spooned into the hollow and the top of the dumpling is pinched shut. They are then steamed and served hot.
Another filling that is less popular because it is more expensive, is mixing ricotta type cheese with dry fried sesame. Personally I preferred the molasses and coconut/sesame variety! The shape is important as it resembles a fig and it is practical in that none of the filling can seep out. Yomari can also be made in the shapes of various gods but I have not seen any of them yet.
One of the staff at the clinic is Newari and he brought in yomari for everyone today – the molasses with sesame/coconut kind. I must admit it was far tastier than the ones I had at Lok’s. Did I say that out loud? Happy Yomari Punhi everyone.