Pahachare is a festival that is widely celebrated by the Newar community of Nepal. It is mainly celebrated in the Kathmandu Valley on the same day of the Ghodey Jatra i.e new moon day on second fortnight of the lunar month Chaitra Krishna Paksha (चिल्लागा, आमै) (चैत्र कृष्ण पक्ष, औंसी) according to Nepali Calendar. On the day of Pahachare , all the family members come together , even if they have been living as a nuclear family by that time. Pahachare is mainly celebrated to welcome the family once again, setting aside all the problems and fights they had with each other. During this festival the head of the family performs a puja for various gods and goddesses , mainly to Bhadrakali, Sankata, Mahankaal, these three gods are the main gods residing in the kathmandu valley. The other gods are , Seto Machindranath, Banglamukhi, Baghbhairab, Kaalbhairab, and Swethbhairab. These are the gods and goddesses that are mainly worshiped during Pahahchare.
As Pahachare falls on the same day as on The Ghodey Jatra, It is not widely known, As everyone is busy observing the Horse Parade in Tudhikhel. Pahachare is also a symbol of the Newari Culture, It is mainly because, Except the main Festival Dashain, the daughters who are already married are not called in other smaller festivals , but in Pahachare , The married daughters are called as well, as it is observed with the entire family under the same roof.
Pahachare is celebrated by the Newars who are in abroad as well. In an article of 2063, Pahachare was observed in Edmonton, Canada. As Newars have a rich culture and have many deities and Jatras for specific deities who are considered to be the all powerful ones, and Mainly for Bhairabs , that need to be appeased so that they will look after the valley and not cause any problems like they used to in the past. During this very festival , Pahachare , the deities are given various offerings , these offerings consists of various Meat dishes, Alcohol, Beaten rice, Stew, Various vegetable items, fried beans, raw ginger, garlic, chopped radish and various fruits. This assortment of food items and alcohol is what we term as “Vwaay” or in layman terms, “A small party”. In Newari traditions a “Vwaay” must always consist of alcohol, No matter the other assortments are , As the deities of Newari Culture are always happy when they are served Alcohol with the meat delicacies. The alcohol’s Newari term is “Ayela”, which is made from fermenting “Rice” and “Barley”. The alcohol used is always homemade and isnot bought from the stores or any other market places. The belief is the strength of the alcohol is how pure the alcohol is after fermentation, This belief has been upheld for a long time now, but , the young generations might not believe it anymore.
Other Newari & Nepali Festivals
Pahachare is celebrated a bit differently around the kathmandu valley itself. While Kathmandu(Kantipur) , Pahachare is only celebrated on the main day, which falls on Ghode Jatra itself, but in Patan(Yalay) and Bhaktapur(Khwopay) , It is celebrated very differently, the variation in all of the three places of the valley is noticeable but all in all, The main day of Pahachare falls on the same day in the entire valley.
In Patan, Pahachare starts a day before Ghodey Jatra i.e 14th day on second fortnight of lunar month of Chaitra Krishna Paksha ,
On the first day, a deity called Luku Mahadyah is worshiped , this is to commemorate the beginning of Pahachare, in various places , their are dances of the deities being performed and these deities are provided with wine , and meat. Theres a belief that a drunk deity can fulfill can wish you ask of them, you have to pay them homage and wish and this belief has been passed down for several decades now.
On the second day, or the main day of Pahachare which falls on Ghode Jatra , there are portable shrines that are carried around in both Kathmandu’s Asan, and In Patan’s Mangalbazaar, these portable shrines are of Ajima mother goddess, In patan theres a one horse race that is conducted alongside the carrying of the shrine of the Ajima Mother goddess. These shrines are normally carried by the young people who are later on fed , the alcohol from the shrine itself as the blessings of the Ajima Mother goddess. These shrines are accompanied by cultural musical bands and many young as well as adults , to Tudhikhel late in the night in kathmandu , while in Patan the shrine is left at the heart of Mangalbazaar. This tradition of carrying the shrine of Ajima mother goddess was started by King Amar Malla in Nepal Sambat 580.
On the third day of the Pahachare all the shrines are gathered in Asan of Kathmandu, while in Patan, the shrine is again carried one more time before being kept in the respective family watching over the shrine for the year. People gather in Asan in Kathmandu to watch the shrines being carried around one more time for the end of the year and parade around with cultural music bands, On this day and on the day of Ghode Jatra various family gatherings are conducted and Pahachare is celebrated with full gusto.
Abroad where people cant be with their families in Nepal, the people host get-together and celebrate this auspicious day with fellow Nepalese. Pahachare has been celebrated for years now, and its rich history is something that is worth looking back to, For this festival is the beginning of a new and a prosperous coming Nepali New Year, though Newari New year or Nepal Sambat always falls on “Mha Puja“.
“Pahachare” is not simply just a festival for Newars, Its something that defines there existence their beliefs and as the generation gap is taking its place, Newars who have always believed in their culture are having a hard time to properly put it in place for the young generations but these small festivals are what keeps the Newar tradition going on for generations to come.
Pahachare is not merely a festival to us Newars. Its one of the festivals that defines , our hospitality and love for our own culture.