If you ever get invited to any typical Newari feast don’t turn the invitation down. You will regret the decision later.
Yes! The Newari Suku bhwey or jho bhwey is one of the best food experiences that you can get if you are not from the Newa community. Or else you know it’s a king-like food experience. You will get served dozens of unique and delicious dishes by dozens of people just like a king being served their meal.
Newari jho bhwey has always been our thing. We still look for the slightest excuse to have such a feast all around every year. Though we enjoy such feast once a month, at the very least.
Despite being so, we are never done with having a Suku bhwey. This luxury is never enough.
We just enjoy every part of the feast. Be it sitting on the traditionally woven straw carpet on a row, cross-legged for one straight hour. It feels somewhat painful though.
Now let’s get into the real thing.
What exactly is Suku bhwey, and how do you eat it?
Wondering why we adore this feast system this much?
Newari Suku bhwey, often called Jho bhwey, or Lapte bhwey is a traditional Newari feast. Nowadays, people from other communities besides Newa people call it Sukul Bhoj. It basically is the Nepalese translation of Suku Bhwey.
Suku Bhwey is conducted on various occasions in the Newa communities. Like, it could be held at weddings, some other big or small rituals like birthdays, house welcoming, Bara ceremonies, or rituals to be done after the death of someone in the family.
Thus, you should know that the foods that are served at every Suku bhwey are not the same. The serving items could be changed according to the types of the feast.
But, here, we will be talking about the most popular type of Suku Bhwey, the one which contains a full meal course. You can experience it mostly at the wedding ceremonies.
If you are interested to learn more about the lifetime ceremonies of the Newa People, you can go through the following article.
But first, let’s start with some Suku bhwey (feast) etiquette. Newa people have always been strict about their culture and tradition and the feasts don’t remain untouched by the cultural norms and values. Newars so obviously have some strict discipline when treating a feast.
- First, when you go to a feast, the host offers you a vermillion, tika, and most of the time Prashad. So, you should take it as soon as you reached the place of a feast. It can also be taken as a chance to greet the host and other participants.
- You need to know that every newari Suku bhwey starts with the elders and most reputable persons of the society sitting at the top of the row. But, in some cases like bhwey of guthis, age does not matter. If there is someone of small age but holds an upper status, then, they must sit in the front of the row, as per their status. So, never sit at the top of the row, if you are having a feast with those executive elders around you.
- After this group is settled, you can sit wherever you like. But, you never start the feast until those elders start feasting.
- You should not get up in the middle of the feast, even if you are full.
Thus, these were some of the etiquette that you should know before going to a Newari Suku Bhwey. Now comes the most interesting part of the article.
The dishes of Newari Suku Bhwey
The typical Newari bhoj or bhwey is served on a traditionally woven plate made out of a special kind of leaf. It is called Lapte. That’s why this feast is also called Lapte bhwey.
Even, while talking about this traditional newari feast, you can get different exposure to the classical Newa culture.
In the Suku bhwey, we start bhwey with the Baji (flat-bitten rice). That’ll be your main food in newari Suku bhwey. Baji, often called Chiura in Nepali is one of the most commonly used food items in Newa society.
Then, all the other meat items, vegetables, and cuisines are put on the plate to complement baji. The bhwey generally consists of beaten rice, chhoila, different kinds of bean preparations, meat items, potatoes, spinach, bara, sour soups, and typically two kinds of liquor, thon (rice beer) and potent blue-flame Aila that are commonly brewed at home.
It is better to have comfortably dressed for the occasion as one has to sit cross-legged for a long period of time to eat this kind of traditional feast.
The primary food items included in these traditional feasts are as follows:
- Baji (beaten rice),
- Green garlic,
- Geda gudi (Chickpea, green peas, and black or green eye beans),
- Hariyo saag (green spinach),
- Aalu-Kauli (potatoes and cauliflower),
- Aalu – tama (potatoes and bamboo shoot curry)-not necessary
- Achaar (pickles) of radish and carrot,
- Achaar made of tomatoes
- Hakuchoila (grounded meat broiled and spiced up),
- Bhuttan (deep-fried intestine and other stomach parts),
- Sisapusa (apple/orange, small peas, carrot, radish, and sugarcane)
Other Meat items
The delicacy of the buff meat in the feast changes depending on the season. Hot gravy meat is served in the summer, while jellied meat dishes called takha and Sanyakhuna are eaten in the winter. Chicken is also served with the meat item.
Drinks and Beverages
The Drinks such as mee-kwa (hot drink made from methi), Simpu (hot drink made of beans, sometimes meat is added in it to make it more savory and healthy), and paun-kwa (sweet and sour lapsi drink, either hot or cold) are also served at the feast which also signals the final stage of the feast. Besides these, Thown and Aila are served at the feast.
When we sits down to eat, we usually gives a portion of the food to the Gods before savoring it. This is known as dyo chaye (God’s share). It usually consists of a small portion of each of the foods served at the feast. If water or beer is served, a few drops will be scattered into the air, while the food is neatly placed next to the plate/lapte in front of the person eating. The dyo chaye’s meaning or aim is to nourish and pleasure the Gods, and it is given to God in general rather than to any specific God.
The procedure of serving the food in Suku Bhwey
During the feast, a specific procedure is followed. First, two people go to set the lapte (a plate made of woven and stitched sal tree leaves) and pala or Sali (clay bowl). Following that, baji, green garlic, meat items (gravy meat or takha and sanyakhuna), kegu (peas), Simi, and achaar (pickle) are served.
After a little pause, baji, hariyo saag (green veggies-cooked), potatoes, and tomatoes achaar (pickle) are served in succession. Then, after a brief interval, baji, and meat items are served in succession. The guests are then fed cauliflower and chicken. Later, more baji is served, followed by the meet.
After a bit, baji is served again, followed by meat items and other dishes. This process will repeat 2-3 times. After that, hot drinks are served and finally, it is followed by dhau and sisa-pusa.
Bhuttan appears only when you have been offered all of these dishes at least two or three times. When you’re served bhuttan in the newari bhwey, you know the feast is coming to an end. And the curd will be served next. However, before serving curd, a small amount of curd is smeared on the side of your brow.
It is called dhau sagun. However, this system also varied from place to place. At most of the Suku bhwey, the dhau sagun is put on the left side of females and the right side of males. Somewhere, they put it on your right side despite being of any gender.
After that, the dhau (yogurt) is served and with that comes another round of baji. If you are fond of having Dahi Chieura, then, you can try eating dahi like that. Later, Sisapusa is served which is like an appetizer for that full-board course meal.
And, this marks the end of a traditional Suku Bhwey in Nepal.
So, what do you prefer, today’s buffet way at parties or our typical Newari Suku Bhwey?