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Tihar festivities in Hills culminate in Bhai Tika

Tihar festivities in Hills culminate in Bhai Tika
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Darjeeling: The five-day long, "Tihar" (Diwali) festivities of the Hills culminated in "Bhai Tika" on Monday.

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 for their brothers,) however, Bhai Tika observed in the Hills has a unique flavor. Specially in the Newar community, Bhai Tika is an elaborate affair.

According to Newari traditions, Mandaps (dedicated space) of different colours are prepared for each brother and are decorated with 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 the mantra. The sister then gives the 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 eggs, dry prawns, fried ginger and garlic and soyabeans).

The brother is supposed to hold the offerings in his hands and not put it down.

After this the sister touches the feet of her brother thrice and a small puja with the chanting of the mantras takes place. The brother is now allowed to put down the offerings he has been holding.

The brother then gives gifts to his sister in return.

For the rest of the Gorkha community, on the day of Bhai Tika sisters anoint the forehead of the brothers with multi coloured Tika, praying for long life and prosperity of their brothers.

"Selroti" or a traditional sweet bread forms the main festive food on the day of Bhai Tika. It is made of rice flour, milk, sugar, clarified butter, cardamom, cloves and fried.

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