Samaybaji: an illustrated children’s book
Samaybaji is an important part of Newar culture where the five main ingredients syabaji, kalo bhatmas, aduwa, chwella and aaela represent the five elements of nature – space, air, water, land, and fire.
As a child, I was always fascinated by the shape of the black bean: it looked like an animal. Around fourteen hundred years ago, when Kathmandu was suffering a drought, King Naradev, Acharya Banudhatta, and Ratnakar Jyapu had traveled to the Kamakshya temple in Asam of India to bring the Avalokitesvara Karunamaya, also known as Rato Macchindra Nath, to Kathmandu. To impress the people of Asam, so that they would allow the god to travel to Kathmandu, Acharya Banudhatta had turned black beans into thousands of buffaloes as a symbol of sacrifice.
Change is inevitable. As time passed, samaybaji changed according to people’s needs and desires. However, we must know the tradition behind samaybaji and not forget it. Newari food has great variation in interpretations, with each individual and community putting forward their own understanding of it. But Samaybaji recalls the mythical and cultural roots of the Newari cuisine, and retells the meaning behind it. Samaybaji wants to intrigue and inspire the imagination of young children to encourage them to embrace their traditions and culture.
Prastuti ChitrakarGraphic Communication