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