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Photo by Scott Diekema, Nepal Semester.

Bhai Tika in Chaukati

We are in Chaukati and our rural homestay has begun and we will be here till the 7th of November. Students are settling into their homestays and doing well. Recently, we had the opportunity to celebrate the festival of Tihar (festival of lights) with the families and there has been a lot of singing, good food, families visiting one another and celebrations going on.

Yesterday was Bhai Tika, where we all received with blessings a ton of fresh, fragrant garlands made out of marigolds and tika (auspicious dots on the forehead made out of vermillion paste) from our families. We feel so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this festival.

It is said that a long time ago the God of death ‘Yamaraj’ had come to take a certain king who was in his deathbed. The sister wasn’t willing to let her brother go but Yamaraj was very adamant. She challenged Yamaraj to a duel and he was mad with anger as how a puny woman, a human would have the audacity to challenge him. After seeing how adamant she was he agreed to the duel. They fought for a long time. Yamaraj was surprised at her courage and how it was almost impossible for him to defeat her.

In the midst of the duel she got a fleeting second where she was able to deliver a powerful blow at him. It is said that any human being might not have been able to survive it. Yamaraj was astounded by her courage and the love that she had for her brother. He told her that he would spare her brother for now, but he would have to die someday as that was the law of nature.

She agreed and quickly added a few conditions to it. They were that Yamaraj would take her brother only after the tika (vermillion paste) on her brother’s forehead would fade away. The Tika comprises of 5-7 different colors; red, blue, white, green and yellow shades and it was put in the hopes that it would take forever to fade.

The second was that Yamaraj couldn’t take her brother till the garland that she had put on him wilted away. She made the garland out of makhamali phul (gomphrena globosa flowers) which doesn’t wilt easily and is also called everlasting flowers.

During the puja (ceremony) oil is sprinkled around the puja area where the brother sits. It is done so to make a circle of protection around him. Marigold flowers are used as garlands and incense as offerings to appease the Gods for the brothers long life.

The Bhai Tika celebration is an elaborate one and it signifies the love between siblings.

Sharing with you all a photograph of a brother receiving tika from his sisters.

Love team