Interestingly, the ceremony is also celebrated by other Indian communities under different names, like ‘Bhai Bij’, ‘Bhau-beej’ or ‘Bhav Bij’ amongst the Marathi and Konkani-speaking communities in the states of Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
‘Bhai Dooj‘, ‘Bhathru Dwithiya’, ‘Bhai Tika’ and ‘Bhatri Ditya’ are the other names by which this festival is celebrated in this culturally diversed nation.
Pertinently, this festival is marked by Hindus across India on the last day of the five-day-long Diwali festival.
On the occasion of ‘Bhai Phonta’, sisters pray for their brothers long and happy lives by performing the ’tilak’ (mark) on his forehead.
Brothers on the other hand promise to protect his sister and give them beautiful gifts.
Food plays an important role in the festival as sisters prepare wide array of dishes for their brothers on this day.
In Bengal, sisters prepare tasty and delicious delicacies, including various sweets like ‘khaja’, sandesh, Payesh, which they serve to their brothers after performing the tika ceremony.
The lunch on this day is usually an elaborate affair with delicacies where sisters make lip-smacking dishes like hilsa fish, pabda fish, chicken or mutton for their brothers.
Similarly, an important part of Bhai Bij in Maharashtra is a special sweet called ‘basundi poori’ or ‘kheerni poori’, which is specially served to brothers by their sisters on this day of love and affection.
The occasion also gives families and relatives staying far and wide a chance to re-unite and meet each other at least once a year.