Hill communities celebrate 'Bhai Tika' as five day Tihar comes to an end

Hill communities celebrate Bhai Tika  as five day Tihar comes to an end

Darjeeling: The five day long Tihar (Diwali) festivities of the Hills culminated in Bhai Tika on Friday. Though both in the plains and the Hills the essence of Bhai Phota and Bhai Tika is the same (it is the day on which sisters pray for the long life and prosperity of their brothers), Bhai Tika observed in the Hills has a unique flavour. Specially in the Newari community, Bhai Tika is an elaborate affair.

According to Newari traditions, Mandaps of different colours are prepared for each brother and is decorated with rangolis (intricate designs or patterns using different natural colours).

In the centre of the Mandap, food grains are kept in the form of a concentric circle. On the outside, fruits and garlands made of marigold flowers and Khoi (made from rice grains) are kept, which are offered to the brother.

The forehead of the brother is anointed with Tika of different colours with the chanting of a mantra. The sister then gives an offering of drinks (alcoholic or made from curd) which the brother has to hold in one hand.

In the other hand, he holds the Shagun which is called Samaibaji in Newari (which comprises egg, dry prawns, fried ginger, garlic and soyabeans). The brother is supposed to hold the offerings in his hands and not put them down. After this, the sister touches the feet of her brother thrice and a small puja with the chanting of mantras takes place. The brother is then allowed to put down the offerings he had been holding. He then gives gifts to his sister in return.

For the rest of the Gorkha community, sisters anoint the foreheads of their brothers with multi-coloured Tikas, praying for their long life and prosperity. First, the brother is made to sit on the floor and the sister goes around the brother thrice, pouring water from a Kalash. This is called Pradakshin, the water boundary signifying protection.

After this, a walnut is cracked outside the house, which symbolises the breaking of Yama's (the god of Death) head, in case he tries to take away her brother's life. The sister then applies oil on the brother's head and brushes his hair. After this, she anoints his head with colourful Tika, gives him a marigold garland and offers him sweets to eat, while she prays for his long life and prosperity. The brother then touches the feet of his sister even if she is younger to him, applies Tika on her forehead and gives her gifts.

Among all the Gorkha sub-communities, Sailroti - a traditional sweet bread, forms the main festive food on the day of Bhai Tika.

Amitava Banerjee

Amitava Banerjee

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