Janku (Pasni for older people)

In Newari culture Janku (also known as Buda Janku or Pasni, different from pasni for baby  ) is a celebration when a person reaches a certain age. If it’s a couple, the date is determined by the age of the husband and the couple will celebrate the Janku together irrespective of the wife’s age at the time. If it is a single person, then it is according to their birth date.

There are five Jankus performed during the lifetime of the person if s/he happens to live to be 106 years old.

The first Janku is when a person is of 77 years, 7 months and 7 days where they are worshipped as an aspect of the sun. This is called BHIMRATHAROHAN where the grandsons carry the person’s chariot on their shoulders and visit temples of god and goddess.

The second Janku is at the age of 83 years, 4 months and 4 days where they are worshipped as an aspect of the moon. This is called CHANDRARATHAROHAN as it is believed that a person has seen 1000 full moons in their life and their prayers are directed towards the moon.

The third Janku is performed at the age of 88 years, 8 months and 8 days, which is called DEVRATHAROHAN and they are worshipped as an aspect of god. This time too the grandsons pull the chariot and visit temples. While entering to home the persons chariot is entered from the window of the house.

The forth Janku is at the age of 99 years, 9 months and 9 days, which is called DIVYARATHAROHAN.

The final one is at the age of 105 years, 8 months and 8 days old, called MAHADIVYARATHAROHAN.

Janku is celebrated at such defined ages for two reasons. “Newari texts mention that the particular ages for the ceremonies mark inauspicious times in a person’s life, times when even the smallest hurdle might pose a serious threat to one’s life. The various rituals are performed in order to please particular deities to help the person overcome those problems”.

Before the invention and availability of modern medicine the average life expectancy of the people was 60 to 65 years and reaching the age of 77 and beyond was like getting a new lease on life. The second reason for a Janku is that after their Janku ,they are considered as god or goddess and the title of Thakali is given the as they are one of the senior members of the community.

Few weeks ago, my Ma (maternal grandmother) celebrated her second Janku. I wish I was in Nepal for that as I missed the first one too but I am so glad to see that she has one great grandson with her.

My Ma has four kids, one of them being my mum and all of them are married. She has 10 grand kids and 6 great grand kids but unfortunately all of the grand kids live overseas so it was so rare for a great grand kid to be around during that time.

Luckily my brother, SIL and nephew were visiting Nepal and they were there to celebrate the big occasion.

During each Janku, the person is dressed like a bride or groom and takes seven steps before getting on the Rath (chariot). The sons and grandsons carry them on the chariot take them around town with family and relatives following the procession.

Women shower them with flowers and vermilion powder and when they reach their home they are given Sagun wishing them a long healthy life.

All the relatives and even distant ones visit them to receive their blessings and have a Bhoj (party) after the completion of all the rites and rituals.

Till next time, take care

M from nepaliaustralian



21 responses to “Janku (Pasni for older people)

  1. We had our Devratharohan function tonight. Thanks to the information on this page, I was able to make my corny little speech, especially how it would have been rather impractical and dangerous to pull his chariot(a large stationwagon) on a steep dip near their house. Alas, my bag with my notes was on the other side of the room, so I had to rely on memory for the recital of traditional procedures and pronunciation of the rather long words. Alas, no one recorded the corny ceremony and even cornier knighthood with my khukri knife (he actually has Imperial honours, so we love to do the corny knighthoods at every opportunity.)
    Alas, he is not what he used to be, so Divyaratharohan will probably elude him, but it was a reasonably fun family night.

  2. My dad has done a number of treks in Nepal and just loves anything to do with Nepal. We all forgot the first 2 Jankus, but I have not forgotten the third. He turns 88 years,eight months and 8 days in 2 days time. Behind his back since he would have forgotten, we booked a Nepali/Indian restaurant in the suburb we grew up in. He will be knighted with a khukri knife in one of my corny ceremonies for a memorable evening.

  3. Interesting custom, especially to one who lives in a culture where age is considered an impediment.

  4. I went back in my reading posts and wanted to tell you that I am so happy that your Grandmother, mother’s mother, had her second Janku! Thank goodness, this is a wonderful and cherished event! My Mom is only 85 but I will try to remember to do something extra special on her 88th year, the way your family did for your Ma. You are blessed with longevity, I believe! Smiles, Robin

  5. one of the best tradition in Newar community..I love Janku celebration..

  6. such an interesting read..never knew the reason behind these celebrations. It’s such a great ritual to pay respect to elders..loved this post.

  7. So amazing. I love this celebration!!!

  8. Thanks for sharing. I had thought janku was a one-time thing like chaurasi, I believe both are beautiful traditions of respecting the elders. With janku, it makes people feel loved and respected as they age. I also find it interesting that the name of events come from sanskrit though newari is based on tibeto-burmese?(I could be wrong). It was good to know the meaning of “Thakali”, and it reminded me of another ethnicity we have in Nepal. I learned a lot from this post.

  9. i have always been interested in this newari tradition because in my culture (bahun) we dont have anything specific like this.

    • Newar have lots of different traditions and some of them are very interesting :). I am learning about them more after I left Nepal. Only after I was far from home, I got interested in our tradition, culture and festivals.

  10. Wow! Being a Nepali, I have never heard of this before. I remember Chaurasi of my grandparents when my grandfather turned 84 and nine years later, we haven’t had any sort of celebration done for him after that. But so glad to learn about all these, hope we can do the one when he turns 99 (fingerscrossed) . Nepali culture is so diverse and it was a great read! And I don’t think I have said this before but I absolutely love reading your posts 🙂

  11. I just love love love this!!!!!!!! So much! ❤
    What a beautiful tradition!! Read the descriptions twice… thank you for sharing! ❤

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