Aama ko mukh herne din in Nepal: Day to See Mother’s Face

People taking a holy dip in the matatirtha (holy place) on aama ko mukh herne din ⓒ Monalisa Maharjan

Many countries all over the world celebrate Mother’s Day, which is a way to thank mothers and show respect for her unconditional love. This day of celebration is new in many countries. But in Nepal this special day has a special traditional significance that goes beyond the physical presence of mothers in the world, so calling this day just mother’s day doesn’t do justice for the significance it carries to the people of Nepal. This day is known as aama ko mukh herne din in Nepali, which could be literally translated as “the day to see mother’s face.”

This day is celebrated on new moon day in the month of Baisakh (first month of Nepali Calendar). This year its fall on 4 May 2019. People pay gratitude to their mother by presenting her with fruits, sweets, and gifts. Especially, daughters who are married and are far the parents go to visit their mothers on this special day and makes the special preparations for the visits. Likewise, there is also a day for father, which is celebrated on new moon day of Bhadra (fifth month of Nepali Calendar).

Sweet shops in Kathmandu busy making traditional sweets ⓒ Monalisa Maharjan

Parents hold a high status in the family and are respected and given the status almost equivalent to a god. So even when they pass on, they will still have a place in daily life and festivities. So on this day, the people who have lost their mother go to temples and holy sites in the morning to donate rice, fruit, and money to the priests and beggars. People believe that the parents who have died will receive the offerings made to priests and others. People also take holy dips in rivers and holy ponds. Ancient beliefs indicate that people could see the reflection of their deceased mother in the water. They also perform a special ritual known as shradha on the riverbanks in the name of the deceased mother.

A few days before aama ko mukh herne din, the streets and markets are busy with people buying things for their mother, creating a vibrant and festive atmosphere with fruit sellers and sweet shops making special arrangements.