Bhai Tika - Worship for Long Life of Brother
Bhai tika is the day of worshiping brothers and sisters, and it finally concludes the five day long Tihar Festival (Yama Panchak) in Nepal.
Bhai Tika is the fifth and last day of Tihar Festival. It is one of the most beautiful and vibrant festivals in Nepal which commemorates the bond between brothers and sisters. On this day, brothers and sisters worship each other and exchange sweets and gifts. The day falls on Kartik Shukla Dwitiya in late October or early November.
Celebration Of Bhai Tika
After clocks hit the auspicious time, the celebration of bhai tika begins. Brothers sit in the designated place near the entrance of the house. All the materials required during puja are placed in front of them. Sister placed a walnut on the floor under the door. Then they form a protective barrier of water and oil, circumambulating their brothers and walnuts three times. After that, they put oil on the head and ear of their brothers and worship them with flowers.
Sisters put a long tika with seven different colors on their brother's forehead. She puts a garland made of makhamali flowers on their neck. Similarly, brothers also put tika and garlands on their sister and worship her. They bless each other for their long life and prosperity. After worshipping each other, sisters provide a variety of foods including sel roti, fruits, and sweets to their brothers. Then the brother bowed down to sisters feet. They give gifts along with a modest sum of money to their sister and complete the ceremony.
The ceremony is held regardless of whether the brother is older or younger than the sister. It is also open to first and second cousins. People who don't have a sister or brother visit Yamarajleswor Temple at Rani Pokhari to receive tika. Interestingly, the temple remains locked up all year round except on this particular day. This temple is open only in Bhai tika and is closed all year round.
Legends behind Bhai Tika
Like crows, dogs also failed to bring the reply of Yama to Yamuna on the second day of Tihar Festival. Yamuna then worshipped goddess Lakshmi for the following two days. Finally on the fifth day, Yama gets a holiday from judging and punishing people for their sins. Then he travels to the earth to visit his sister Yamuna. She puts tika on his forehead, garland on his neck and feeds him special foods. They also exchanged gifts and later Yamraj decided that anyone who receives a gift from his sister will never die on that day.
Local Myth says, on this day, Kirat ruler King Bali Hang's sister worships his brother as per deal with Yama (god of death). When Yama came to take king Bali Hang, his sister offered Walnuts to lord Yamaraj. So, while Yama was busy eating his favorite nuts. She took the opportunity and asked Yama to only take her brother away if he finds the Lemon she hid away. Then she also placed an oil circle and told Yama not to cross it. Yama was so busy eating the walnut, he kept saying ok to all the requests. Then, she placed makhmali flower garlands on her brother’s neck and said Yama can’t take Bali away till the makhmali dries out and Yama agreed. The Makhamali flower doesn't fade away for a long time, which symbolizes the long life of her brother.
Newari people in Nepal celebrate Kija Puja on the day of Bhai Tika. Although Kija puja shares a common objective with Bhai Tika, there are many aspects that make Kija Puja a distinct culture of the Newari community. Also people of some regions in India celebrate 'Bhai Dooj' with similar objectives. All these events conclude the five days of Tihar Festival in Nepal and welcomes Chhath Parwa which is celebrated after six day from Lakshmi Puja.