The festival revolves around Kashmiris offering food to the ‘strange beings’ that dwell in the high mountains and come down on this day to check if the truce that was offered by them long ago is still being honoured or not. Kashmiri Pandits call the night Kaechi Mavas or Khichdi Amavas. On this day, lentils cooked with rice are kept outside the door for the Yech to feast on. Yech is the operational word for Yakhshas, Nagas and Pishachas – the mythical ancient demi-god residents of Kashmir. Kaechi Mavas is a yearly reenactment of the peace treaty that was arrived at by the demi-god and the humans. Humans would offer Yech food on this day so that Yech would not bother them in the tough winters. Humans would draw a circle around their house, a circle that Yech wouldn’t cross. Outside the peripheral door, khichdi would be kept. Locals would tell stories of a strange toupeed being that would visit each house to claim his food.
Kaechi Mavas is an ancient Kashmiri festival.
It was believed that whoever manages to steal the golden topi off the Yech’s head stands to attain all the riches of the world. Children, a bit fascinated and mostly terrified, would often try to sneak a view of this super being, they would stay up late into the night, eyes glued outside the window towards the door. Of course, no one came.
This was the day of feast for dogs. Dogs traditionally have a claim on a certain portion of Pandit’s meal – a Kashmiri Pandit offers Hoon Myet or Dog Morsel to a symbolic dog before commencing to have his meal. On this day, dogs were treated with extra care, even garlanded and then offered food.