Two days after Kali Puja on dvitiya Bhai Phota is
celebrated. On this day, sisters keep a fast and invite their
brothers to be felicitated.
It is well known as Bhai Duj in the North, Bhau Bij in the west and
Bhai Phonta in the East, especially West Bengal. This is the day
meant for brothers and sisters.
This event is ceremoniously performed by the loving sister who
religiously fasts the entire morning until she applies a 'fota' of
sandal wood paste on her brother's forehead, pray for his safety and
offer him sweets and gifts. The brother also eagerly waits for his
sister to apply the 'fota' and in turn lavishes her with love and
gifts. This event specially strengthens the bond between the brother
and sister and builds the affectionate relationship still further.
Bhai Phota is a major event among Bengalis, which sets the prices
in the vegetable and fish market high. The sisters invite brothers
and the brothers make it a point to remain free from all engagements
in order to spend the day with their sisters and other family
members. Gift are bought and kept a secret until the day. Best
dishes are prepared. By the time it is ten in the morning the sound
of conch shell and laughter can be heard from every house.
Bhai Phota is very similar to Raksha Bandhan, a day sisters look
forward to. One of the earliest recollections that comes to an elder
sister when thinking about her brother is the childhood days of Bhai
Phota, the last spree before school reopens the next day, after a
month long festivity starting with Mahalaya. During childhood,
sisters dress up in a sari on Bhai Phota. Brothers would be in brand
new pajama panjabi (kurta pajama). Brotherhood or sisterhood is a
part of everyday 'taken for granted' life, and yet this occasion
catches fiery imagination like nothing else. Going down the memory
lane one recollects the early morning of picking durba (the first
blades of grass) and the hands turning moist with the sisir (heavy
dewdrops) of late autumn. In the backdrop of a conservative Hindu
society, the fact remains that this is perhaps the relation most