Ama Ghar celebrated another beautiful and joyful Mha Puja this year – it has become an annual event and a favorite of many of our regular visitors. Jacole, a long-time friend of Ama Ghar who now works in Cambodia, makes a trip to Ama Ghar every Tihar to celebrate Mha Puja, which always takes place on New Year’s Day in the Nepali calendar.
Mha Puja, the worship of the inner self, is unique to the Newar people of the Kathmandu Valley. Newars believe that one needs to understand and respect oneself before he/she can understand others. Understanding of one’s role in life makes him/her more knowledgeable and unselfish. Worshipping and blessing one self to achieve unselfishness and generosity as well as prosperity and physical well being makes this festival unique.
It’s a visual feast as well as a literal one, as mandalas are carefully prepared on the floor, and flowers are offered for blooming and fragrant life. The offering of a variety of fruits, nuts and sweets symbolizes a fruitful and resourceful life. Every year the children decide on different but very elaborate mandalas made with colors and petals – everyone joins in to help make our Mha Puja a visual treat and a very meaningful evening.
As you can imagine, there is quite a bit of cost for preparation of the house and the food, and our friend Jacole generously donated all the expenses for us this year. Luckily ,we didn’t have any marigold expenses as we plant many marigolds to be sure we have enough to make malas (garlands) and also for the cascade of marigold petals that are required to bless yourself – the traditional ritual is three cascades of petals.
It is a special time at Ama Ghar ,as all of the older ones return home for this special evening. This year, our Founder Shrawan Nepali was also in town to celebrate with us, and Nathalie, a friend from Switzerland shared her first Tihar with us this year.