feast of the Yachh is held on the last day of the dark fortnight (Amavasya:
mavas) of Pausha (Poh in Kashmiri) of the Indian calendar. The comfort food called khichdi (or khecher/ kheched: a
hodgepodge) is cooked for dinner and offered to the deity. The dish is
essentially rice cooked along with whole-moong beans, turmeric, other spices,
salt and ghee. The first mound of this khichdi is placed on a freshly made grass
mat (aear), and after applying a little vermillion, is placed at an isolated
spot outside the house- preferably on top of a fence. The family then enjoys the
feast of khichdi with some ghee, anchar of Kohl rabi, or even cooked fish and
radishes. Afterwards all hush up to listen for the call of the Yachh passing by
in the dark of night, supposedly as a large cat-like creature. Legend has it
that the Yacch dons a golden cap which, if snatched away would bestow the
grabber enormous amounts of wealth.
is this Yachh? Yachh is a corruption of the Sanskrit word Yaksha. Apparently
Yakshas were meat eating people living in the northern areas of
and beyond). They possessed knowledge, wealth, technology and power. In the
Mahabharata the famous discourse between Yudhishtara and aYaksha (Yaksha Prashna:
the questions by the Yaksha to Yudhishtara) illustrates the deep understanding
of the mundane and the subtle by these people. In the epic Ramayana, king Rama
returns from Lanka to his kingdom Ayodhya in an aeroplane called Pushpak Vimana
that belonged to the king of Yakshas -Kubera. The Yacch mavas offering is for
this chief of the Yakshas.
was bestowed with enormous super-natural powers in spite of his physical
deformities. He is depicted as a three legged dwarf! Since Luxmi lives in the
, he is the treasurer of wealth, with the responsibility to distribute it. Thus
propitiating Kubera bestows wealth on the devotee.
have been a part of the Indian landscape since ancient times. With the passage
of time, folklore has ascribed both bad as well as good qualities to the Yakshas.
Because of their supernatural powers they gradually became part of the pantheon
of deities for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains- just as the elves of the North have
become part of the Christian tradition in various forms. Some of the famous
deities that we adore in
probably have Yaksha origins directly or indirectly with Saivite, Buddhist and
Jain influences mixed in together. The modern Kashmiris may in fact be the
descendants of the original tribes of Yakshas, who lived in
from times immemorial, intermingled with lineages of the sage Kashyapa. No
wonder then, we offer Khichdi to Kubera not only to propitiate him to bestow us
with wealth but also to remind ourselves about our own ancestry derived from the
ancient lineages that have gone before us.
now, hush, and get ready to snatch that golden cap!
And may Lord Kubera bestow us all with wealth and happiness.
December 17, 2009