Bhai Tika is a popular name for the festival of Bhai-Dooj in Nepal. The festival is celebrated on the fifth and final day of the Festival of Lights which is called Diwali in India and 'Tihar' or 'Panchak Yama' in Nepal. As Bhai Tikka is celebrated as a part of the Tihar celebrations the festival is also famously known as 'Bhai Tihar'. Brothers and sisters desperately wait for the arrival of this joyous festival. Sister's apply sacred tika on brother's forehead and pray to Lord Yama, the God of Death, for his long life and prosperity.
Legend of Bhai Tika
Popular legend behind Bhai tika narrates the story of Lord Yamaraj and his twin sister Yamuna. When after a gap of several years Yamaraj visited his sister on the auspicious 'Dooj' Day he was received warmly by Yami. She applied tilak on his forehead, performed arti of him and gave a sumptuous meal to eat. Delighted with sister's warmth and affection Yamaraj announced that anyone who visits his sister on Dooj day and eats a meal with her will never be hurled to hell.
People of Nepal also believe a popular tale that says a sister saved his brother's life from the clutches of Yamraj by applying a sacred tilak on her brother's forehead. Since then the festival is being religiously celebrated in Nepal.
Rituals of Bhai Tika
On this day sisters invite brother and his family to her house. Following the rituals of Bhai Tikka sister draws three mandaps or boundaries at a selected place. These boundaries symbolize Lord Ganesh, Janmaraj (the God of Birth) and Yamaraj respectively. She then performs Puja of the deities and makes the brother sit on a mat. In Nepal, a unique 'Paanch Rangi Tika' i.e. a tika consisting of five colours (red, green, blue, yellow and white) is lovingly applied by sister on the forehead of brother. Sister prays for brother's long life and draws a boundary (mandap) around her brothers with oil using doob grass. This means that no one including Yamaraj can cross the boundary guarded by sister's love. Sister gives a 'shagun' of fruits, sweets and some gifts to brother and after the ceremonies are over brother blesses sister and pamper her with loads of Bhai Tika Gifts.
Bhai Tika Celebrations
Bhai Tika festival is celebrated with lot of joy in Nepal. Propitious time for celebrations is declared a day before the festival by the royal astrologer. On the festival day, just as King of Nepal receives tika from his sister a thirty-one gun salute is given by royal soldiers. Exactly at this time brothers and sisters in Nepal would be performing the ceremonies of Bhai Teeka with joy and enthusiasm. Best of festive food is relished and the mood of the people is upbeat. People have all the time to make the best of the festival as the day is marked as a national holiday in Nepal. Those staying away from their siblings send Bhai Tika Gifts and Greetings by courier or post. The latest trend is to send E-Tika as internet access is available to most brothers and sisters.