Bhai Tika with the Gurung family
01.11.2016 - 01.11.2016 29 °C
This trip to Nepal has coincided with festival season. I arrived towards the end of Dashain, and within a couple of weeks – just time to settle in – Tihar was upon us. Tihar/Diwali/Deepavali is the festival of light and flowers, lasting for five days. The final day, Bhai Tika, is the most important, and I was honoured to be invited to celebrate in Kalabang with my Nepali family. Bhai Tika is all about sisters worshipping their brothers for the love and protection they provide, by praying for their long life and prosperity.
With everyone gathered at the home of Prakash (eldest brother), the festivities began with all the preparations necessary for the actual ritual, which would take place at the auspicious time a little later in the day. The sisters cooked mountains of sell roti, a fried circular bread made with rice batter, for eating and to be used as offerings, while sister-in-law made a start on the marigold garlands. The nephews were in charge of erecting some shade over the forecourt, not just for comfort, but also to designate the space for the ritual to take place. Once the bread was made, eldest sister pounded some bot doob grass into a paste, and youngest sister sorted out the rest of the colours for the tika.
After placing protections over the doorways, the sisters began bringing the offerings and other ritual paraphernalia out to the shaded area.
As the auspicious time drew closer, the brothers and nephews gathered. Once they were seated, the sisters marked three boundaries around the ritual place with oil and flower petals, symbolic of a protection for those seated within. Finally, the sisters gave each other tika, and then they were ready to begin the ritual.
To start with, all the brothers and nephews were strewn with flower petals, then one by one – from oldest to youngest – each was blessed by the eldest sister. There was the ritual washing with wet bot doob grass, wiping mustard oil on the forehead and hair, then the giving of the tika, a garland and a new topi. After each man was blessed, he gave the sisters a gift.
At the end of the ritual, all were offered a sweet for good luck and a piece of walnut to symbolise the ending of troubles (because the walnuts are hard to crack). After the tika, the next most important part of Bhai Tika is the delicious meal that the sisters prepare for the brothers. The meal we enjoyed that day was spectacular, but when I think about it, the food that comes out of the Gurung kitchen is always amazing!!
If you go to my photo gallery, all of these pics are captioned to give a better idea of what's happening. Plus there are a few extras.