Bhai Phota is a prominent Hindu festival celebrated in the state
of West Bengal on the Dvitya or the second day after the Kali Puja. Bhai
Phota is a festival that strengthens the beautiful bond of love and
affection between a brother and his sister. It is celebrated with lot of
gusto and euphoria all over West Bengal and sisters and brothers eagerly
await the arrival of the joyful Bhai Fota.
Bhai Phota Ceremonies
At 10 in the morning Bengali houses reverberate with the sound of conch
shells marking the beginning of the festivities. Traditionally the
ceremonies take place in the house of the sister who invites her brother
and his family on the occasion of Bhai Phota. When the entire family has
gathered in the central place of the house, sisters, dressed in their
fine clothes, make their brothers sit on a traditional ‘Asana’,
a small cotton mattress.
With full sincerity and humility she applies ‘Phota’
or ‘tilak’ on her brother’s forehead amidst the chanting
of mantras. This ‘Tilak’ is a paste of ‘chandan’
(sandalwood), 'kaajol' and 'doi' (yogurt). There is also a prescribed
method of applying Fota. If the sister is elder to the brother, she
applies ‘Phota’ with the little finger of her left hand while
the kid sister apply phota using their right hand.
After the Fota ceremony, brother is showered with sweets and gifts from
the sisters. Following the tradition, brother touches the feet of his
elder sister who gives him rice grains and 'Durba' (blades of grass) as
her blessing. Then comes the turn of the brother to pamper his sisters
with gifts or cash.
Though the entire ceremony is simple in nature, it has a deep
underlying meaning attached to it. The Bhai Phota ceremony is symbolic
of sisters prayers to the divine to provide long and a prosperous life
to her brother. Such is the love of the sister that she does not consume
even a morsel of food or a take a sip of the customary morning tea
before she applies phota on her dear brother.
Bhai Phota Celebrations
After the Bhai Phota ceremonies are over it is time to have some fun.
The whole family indulges in songs, games and merriment. Relatives are
invited for big family get togethers over lunch or dinner. Their
presence doubles the excitement and people have a good time relishing
the best of festive food with near and dear ones.
Here are the various versions of mantras which are chanted during the
Bhai Phota ceremonies:
The Sanskrit Version
Bhratus tabaa grajaataaham
Bhunksa bhaktamidam shuvam Preetaye yama raajasya
I’m your sister
Eat this sacred rice
For the pleasure of "Yam Raj" and "Yamuna".
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.