Bhai Phota is the popular name for the festival of Bhai Dooj in the state of West Bengal. Bhai fota is celebrated to strengthen the bond of love and affection between siblings. The festival is a joyous family occasion on the 'Dooj' or 'Dwiteya' which is the second day after new moon or Kali Puja celebrations. Unique rituals are practiced by the people of West Bengal which makes the festival delightfully different from Bhai Dooj celebrations as seen in rest of the country.
Rituals of Bhai Phota
Bhai Phota ceremonies are practiced with sincerity and faith by brothers and sisters in West Bengal. Rituals begin quite early in the morning as people start preparing for the festival. Men and women dress up in their finest clothes. According to the custom brothers visit sisters on Bhai Phota. Sisters prepare a lavish meal for brother and his family but herself does not consume water or food till she applies tilak on her brother's forehead.
On his arrival brother is seated on an 'asana' (a small cotton mattress). Sister then applies 'Phota' or tilak on brother's forehead with devotion. She also chants a mantra wishing for her brother's well being and prosperity. The 'Tilak' is a unique paste of 'chandan' (sandalwood), 'kaajol' and 'doi' (yogurt). While the elder sister is supposed to apply phota with the little finger of her left hand, kid sister does so using her right hand.
Thereafter, sisters pamper their brother with gifts and sweets. Brother touches the feet of her sister as a mark of respect and in the form of blessing sister place rice grains and 'Durba' (blades of grass) on her brother's head. Now, it is the turn of brother to pamper her sister with loads of Bhai Phota Gifts. Sounds produced by conch shells adds to the joy of the ritual.
Sisters away from their brother send Bhai Phota by post. Today as more and more brothers and sisters are getting hooked to Internet there is a trend to send e-tika. Brother too send Bhai Phota Gifts Online in the age of technology.
Bhai Phota Celebrations
Bhai fota is celebrated as a family reunion day in the state of West Bengal. Married sisters are particularly elated on the day as they get to meet people of their mother's family. Best of festive dishes are prepared and loads of Bhai Phota Gifts are exchanged. There is joy and merriment all around.
Mantra read by Sister during Bhai Phota ceremonies:
Bhaier kapale dilam phonta,
Jamer Duare porlo kanta,
Jamuna Dae Jomke phonta,
Ami di amar bhaike phonta,
Bhai jeno hoy lohar vata.
I put a "phota" on my brother's fore-head
To make my brother immortal
"Yamuna" gives a "phota" to "Yam"
I give a "phota" to my brother
Brother may becomes tough as iron.