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Bhai Phota

The festival of Bhai Phota, mainly celebrated by the Bengalis, is very similar to Bhaiya dooj and Raksha Bandhan. The occasion is held during the Diwali season, when Bengalis celebrate Kali Pujo. Actually, there is a month long festival, which starts from Mahalaya and ends with Bhai Phota. Bhai Phota is very similar to Rakhi on the emotional aspects. Both the festivals commemorate the love between a brother and a sister. While one festival celebrates it with a thread of love, the other celebrates it with the tilak (mark on forehead) of love.
The Bengali families beam with joy as they look forward to celebrate this day. In a traditional Bengali household, all the family members get together, dressed in the finest clothes. Men generally dress in kurta pyajamas or dhoti kurta while women wear sarees. All the brothers sit on 'ason' [ small carpet for sitting on the floor] and wait for their sisters to put the Phota [drop / mark / Tilak]. The sisters apply the Phota with their little finger or ring finger and say the following famous lyrics:

“ Bhaier kapale dilam phonta,
Jamer Duare porlo kanta,
Jamuna Dae Jomke phonta,
Ami di amar bhaike phonta,
Bhai jeno hoy lohar vata.”

which means –
“on my brother's forehead I put the “phota”,
Death's door are now closely crossed
Yamuna applies “phota” on Yama
While I give the “phota” to my brother
Let my brother be as tough as Iron”

The traditional Phota is made with “Chandan” (sandal), “Doi” [curd/yogurt], “Kajol” [Black soot]. When the Phota is being applied, the sister either puts a grain or two of rice on the Phota or gives it to the brother. The sister also bless him with “durba” [grass bladed].

Thereafter it is the turn of the brother to shower gifts on the sister. The function ends with the traditional Bengali grand lunch, which mainly comprises of rice and fish along with various other items. No function is complete without the famous Bengali sweets like rasogolla and malpua. On the whole, there's an atmosphere of fun and jubilation amongst all.

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