Tuesday, April 17, 2012

2012 - Happy Samay-Baji Festival (समयबजी)

Samay Baji (समयबजी) 
(Display of Samay Baji during the festival of Indra Jatra)

These pictures were taken during the Indra Jatra festival in Kathmandu, when I was observing numerous displays of the auspicious food of Samay Baji.  The sacred food is available at many places in the valley (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Patan), but most of my pictures are from Kathmandu area. 

Samay Baji consists of several food items representing good luck, prosperity, fortune, health, and longevity.  The foods are served during  family reunions and other family celebrations.  The typical food items are flattened rice flakes (baji, cheura),  puffed rice (samay, syabaji), fried-saandheko black soybean, fresh ginger rhizomes (palu, aduwa),  marinated broiled meat (chowella), dried fish fried in oil (sanya, sidra-maacha), boiled-fried eggs, fresh and dried fruits, lentil patties (woh, baara), several variety of Newari mari breads, and a local white wine (ailaa).  

Hundreds of devotees come to celebrate the Indra Jatra festival.  At the end, the ritual dish will be shared and distributed among devotee as an auspicious blessed food (prashad).

A must see! The spectacular display of three-different traditional Samay Baji at the Makhan Tole Chowk, Kathmandu near Hanuman Dhoka area during Indra Jatra festival.  The sacred food is being offered to goddess Kumari, Shree Ganesh, and Seto and Kalo Bhairav.  Hundreds of devotees come to this area and later the ritual dish will be shared and distributed as an auspicious (prashad) food.

Taleju Bhawani Temple is one of the oldest three roofed temples near Hanuman Dhoka area.  This picture was taken during Indra Jatra festival.  The three different Samay Baji (pictured above) was displayed near the temple. 
All the food items are selected according to traditions and customs.  There are numerous display of Samay Baji all over areas of Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan.  Most of the pictures here are from around Kathmandu in Ason Tole, Indrachowk, Makhan Tole, and Jaisi Debal.  The tradition is observed by sharing the blessed bhoj (feast).
Close up view of Samay Baji displayed in front of Taleju Bhawani Temple in Kathmandu.  People are celebrating and enjoying the annual festival. 
Sign above the display mentioning offerings for three gods: Shree Kumari, Shree Ganesh, and Bhairab.

Here this display of Samay Baji naturally gets everyone's attention!  Food plays a big part in the celebration.
Festival time in Kathmandu - the whole atmosphere has livened up.

 In this display,  the smoked whole fish is placed on top of Samay Baji tower, which symbolizes good luck and fortune for the coming years ahead.  Notice the well balanced combination of flavors, textures, colors and spices used in this display.  Laakha-mari, the ceremonial Newari bread, can be seen here.
 Observing auspicious display of Samay Baji in front of Annapurna Mandir, at Ason Tole, Kathmandu.  The mandir is a three-storied temple dedicated to goddess Annapurna, the goddess of abundance. 

Close-up view of Samay Baji in front of Annapurna Mandir, Ason Tole. The whole display of Samay Baji is topped off with the local ceremonial bread, laakha mari, and a large chickpeas flower sweet (laddu) is placed on the top.
Another close up view of Samay Baji - the base of the decorated food tower consists of  flattened rice flakes and the side of food tower is (from left) black soybean, chowella meat, boiled-fried whole eggs,  lentil patties, marinated mustard greens, preserved radish pickle,  fresh ginger rhizomes, black-eyed peas and garbanzo beans. 

Another close up view of Samay Baji - it is also decorated with several variety of Newari mari breads.
Several variety of local sweets is placed around Samay Baji by devotees.
Kumari Ghar Window (the living Goddess House) in Kathmandu - traditional Nepali architecture.
Offerings by devotees include money, newari sweets, and several red clay containers of Juju Dhau - (king of yogurt) delicious creamy yogurt from Bhaktapur is placed around Samay Baji. 

In the above picture Nepali style sweet paan (beetle leaf combined with a mixture of chopped areca nuts, cardamom seeds, cloves, rose petal preserve, candied fruits, and fennel seeds) is placed around the auspicious food.  
Traditional food items such as anarsa-roti (sweet rice patties with poppy seeds), khajuri (Nepali cookies), khaaja (flaked flour bread), ladoo (sweet chickpea balls), dry fruits and other sweets are brought by devotees to put around the Samay Baji.

Award-winning creative display of Samay Baji


Beautifully carved green pumpkin with flowers made of carrot and white radish - placed around the ritual dish.

Picture taken on the last day of Indra Jatra festival at the Jaisidewal area of Kathmandu. Several festival delicacy laakha mari (different sizes) are placed around the auspicious food display symbolizing good luck, fortune, prosperity and the round bread symbolized family reunion.

A little red clay container of rakshee (local liquor), jaad (local beer), chhang or thon (the milky white, tart, slightly sweet liquor made from fermented rice) is placed around Samay Baji display.

Traditional music during the festival.

Indra Jatra festival time crowd in Kathmandu - people are celebrating and enjoying the annual festival sitting around the temple steps near Durbar square area. 
Even the Nepali police are marching to the festival music.

Kind courtesy of Suraj Pradhan (chef and creator of "Nepalese Taste group" in the facebook).  The above hand-written letter was sent to me by Suraj's aunt, Sushma Piya from Nepal.  She explains what Samay Baji is and its most important ingredients. (page 1)
  Quick translation:  

Samay Baji - A ritual Newari dish consists of several items - flattened rice flakes (cheura or baji),  puffed rice (samaya, swaya baji), fried-saandheko black soybean, fresh ginger rhizomes, julienne and  fried (palu, aduwa),  marinated grilled or boiled meat (chowella), dried fish fried in oil (sanya, sidra-maacha), boiled-fried eggs, fresh fruits, lentil patties (baara, woh), several variety of Newari mari breads,  and alcohol (ailaa) -  (page 2)
Walking around Hanuman-Dhoka,  Durbar Square Area, Kathmandu (World Heritage Site - Monument Zone) and taking pictures of marigold flowers garland vendors.
Photo taken near the Hanuman Dhoka Square in Kathmandu- UNESCO World Heritage Sites - several complexes of palaces, courtyards and temples that were built between the 12th and the 18th centuries by Malla Kings of Nepal.

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  1. That's a mass production and a real culture of Indian food. Thanks for post it.

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  2. This blog is about experiencing Nepali culinary and cultural heritage of Nepal...

    India has the greatest food culture and I love Indian food, but this blog is all about Nepal, the neighboring country - Please check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nepal

  3. I love this post..So much culture :)

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  6. Hello. I like your work and i am using this for my report. Please keep in mind that i am giving you proper in text citation and proper acknowledgement in reference section.
    thank you for such colorful and good blogs.