Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi Observed in Canada
The Nepalese community in Edmonton, Canada observed Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi festivals amidst a special cultural event at Duggan Community Hall on Saturday September 14, 2019. The cultural event was organized by Newa Cultural Society of Alberta (NCSA), a local Nepalese-Canadian organization to practice, promote and preserve Newa culture and traditions in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Meanwhile, Gun Punhi festival is also known as Kwati Punhi as in this festival people drink Kwati, a special ethnic soup prepared from nine varieties of beans. Yenya Punhi festival is also known as Indra Jatra as this festival is mainly dedicated to Indra, the god of rain and the king of heaven.
The cultural event was jointly inaugurated by Dr. Hemanta Joshi, President of NCSA; and Mr. Janaki Das Ranjitkar, a senior member of the community. The inaugural ceremony was followed by Puja (worship) of Ganesh (the god of beginnings), Bhairab (the god of strength) and Indra by offering flowers, fruits, sweets, yogurt, Khaye (holy drink made from yogurt), and Samay Bajee [a variety of ethnic food comprised of Bajee (rosted beaten rice), Syabajee (roasted puffed rice), Khen (boiled and fried egg), Wo (ethnic pancake cooked from black lentils), Nya (fried fish), Choyela (roasted spicy meat), Simpu (boiled spicy kidney beans), Bhuti (boiled spicy black eyed beans), Mushya Wala (roasted spicy black soya beans), Lava Palu (fried and sliced garlic and ginger), Wauncha (boiled and spiced green vegetable), and Aalu Wala (boiled and spiced potatoes)]. An Aarati (part of Puja in which oil light from oil light holder is offered to the deities) was also offered to deities by lightning oil lamp and burning the incense.
After the Puja ceremony, Dr. Hemanta Joshi, President of NCSA, welcomed all the guests and participants and highlighted on the importance of Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi cultural festivals. According to Dr. Joshi, both the Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi festivals have cultural significances in the world. According to him, these festivals not only belong to Newa people or people of Nepal but also to the people of the world as these festivals are originated from Kathmandu valley, home of seven world heritage sites designed by the UNESCO. According to Dr. Joshi, it is the duty of all to practice, promote and preserve these important festivals in the world for the present and future generations. In the cultural event, a booklet on the Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi cultural event of NCSA was jointly unveiled by the President of NCSA; Dr. Keshab Shrestha, Advisor of NCSA; and by Mr. Dwarika Nath Shhrestha, senior member of the community.
In the cultural event, all the guests and participants were served with a bowl of Kwati and Nan (a kind of bread made from flour) as part of commemorating Gun Punhi. Similarly, Samay Bajee which was offered to the Bhairab was distributed to the participants as Prasad (divine blessings) after the cultural event as part of commemorating Yenya Punhi festival. Participants were also entertained with vivid cultural program (drama on Indra, Kumari Charya dance, Lakhey mask dance, Pulukishi (ride of Indra) dance, and live Newa concert) performed by local artists. A cultural quiz related to Gun Punhi and Yenya Punhi was conducted to raise the cultural awareness among the participants. Certificates were also distributed to the outstanding artists by the President of NCSA. At the end of the cultural event, an ethnic dinner was served to all the participants.