The festival of Bhai Tika, an integral part of Nepal's Tihar celebrations, is being observed with great reverence and joy across the nation today. This festival, known as Yama Dwitiya, marks the fifth and final day of the Tihar festival, a time when familial bonds are honored and cherished in a unique and traditional manner.
At the heart of Bhai Tika is the age-old ritual where sisters apply a special tika, known as Pancharangi or Saptarangi, on their brothers' foreheads. This ritual is a symbol of respect, faith, and loyalty, and it carries with it prayers for the brothers' long life, health, and prosperity. The tika, a mixture of different colors, is applied in a specific order and carries significant religious and cultural symbolism.
Following the tika ceremony, the roles are reversed, and brothers apply tika to their sisters' foreheads. This practice is rooted in the belief that such acts of mutual respect and worship bring good luck and prosperity to both siblings.
The Nepal Calendar Determination Committee, under the leadership of Srikrishna Adhikari, has announced that the most auspicious time for the Bhai Tika rituals this year is at 10:51 AM, although the ceremonies can be carried out throughout the day until sunset. The Committee also provided specific directions for the ritual: sisters should face West while applying tika to their brothers, who should be facing East.
In addition to the tika, the festival involves the exchange of gifts and special food packets between brothers and sisters. Sisters prepare and give food packets that typically include dry fruits and selroti, a traditional Nepali delicacy, while brothers reciprocate with gifts symbolizing good fortune and appreciation for their sisters.
For those in Kathmandu who do not have siblings or are unable to be with them, the temple of Balgopaleshwar, located in the middle of Ranipokhari, opens its doors for Bhai Tika. Individuals without siblings can visit this temple, perform worship, and receive tika. Similarly, the Khanjaneshwar Mahadev temple in Jaybageswari is another significant site where people can participate in rituals dedicated to the festival, especially for those without siblings.
The Newa community observes Bhai Tika as Kijapuja, highlighting the festival's widespread cultural significance across different communities in Nepal. This day, steeped in tradition and familial love, is a vibrant reminder of the enduring bonds between brothers and sisters, celebrated with ancient customs that have been passed down through generations.