Tihar Concludes with a Celebration of Brother and Sisterhood
The five day long festival of lights, Tihar or Dipawali, commences with the worshipping of crows and dogs, and concludes with the most important day for Nepalis: the celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood known as Bhai Tika. The ritual takes place on the fifth day of Tihar, in the late morning, when sisters apply multi-coloured tika, known as ‘saptarangi’ (seven colours) to their brothers’ foreheads. They also bless them with holy water, graciously thanking them for their love and support and praying to protect them from all bad. During this process the sister kneels in front of the brother and gives offerings such as marigolds, sweets, dried fruits and nuts, known as ‘sagun’.
In return, the brothers will give a gift or money, showing their appreciation towards their sisters. For those who may not have brothers and sisters practice this ritual with close relatives such as cousins. After the ritual is completed, the entire family sits down for an elaborately prepared meal to have a feast! According to Hindu beliefs, the God of death, God Yamaraj went to his sister’s house after a long time, and she blessed him with tika, sweets and a feast. From this day on, Yamaraj proclaimed that every year on this auspicious fifth day of Tihar, sister’s will practice this ritual on their brothers to keep them from harm.
On this, the brother/sister relationship is strengthened through an exchange of blessings and gifts, and food made with love.
Text by : Elisha Gurung
Picture Credit : Rakesh Manandhar