Kolkata holds an important place among all the states of India because of its rich
cultural heritage. The city is known for its numerous festivals which are celebrated
with great joy in almost every corner of the state.
One such festival is Bhai Phota
Festival of Kolkata. No matter how busy people have become and how people have got
their outlook changed regarding many old festivals, Bhai Phota gets a special status.
The rituals of this festival are deeply rooted into the Bengali Society.
About Bhai Phota in Kolkata
Most of the Hindu Festivals are celebrated in
order to pay homage to various Gods and Goddesses. These festivals are celebrated to
commemorate birth of a God or Goddess, the marriage ceremony of a God/Goddess, or
victory of divine powers over the evil ones.
Bhai Phota is a unique Hindu Festival that
conveys the strong bond shared by sisters and brothers. On this festival, sisters keep
fast and they wish for the long life and prosperity of their brothers.
This festival is
celebrated two days after another Important Hindu festival, the Diwali. Bhai Phota
falls in Shukla Paksha of Kartik Month of Bengali Calendar. Bhai Phota is known as Bhai
Dooj in rest of India except Bengal.
Literally Bhai means brother and Phota means
‘a mark’ in Bengali Language. The name of the festival has its origin in
the rituals of this festival.
Rituals of Bhai Phota in KolkataOn the day of Bhi Phota, sisters fast since
morning. They make sandalwood paste and arrange for ‘Durba’ or tender grass
shoots and paddy grains.
Brothers are made to sit on asanas or floor mats and tilak of
sandalwood paste, curd and honey is put on their forehead by the sisters.
A lamp is lit
and when sisters put tilak on the forehead of their brothers, they chant a mantra meant
for this occasion. Sisters and brothers wear traditional Bengali Dresses for Bhai
brothers are younger they get blessings from their sisters with ‘Durba’ and
Paddy Grains while elder brothers bless their younger sisters with the same things.
The mantra that sister chant during this
‘Bhaier Kopale Dilaam Phota ( I put tilak on my
Jomer duaare porlo kaanta (thorns fall at the
entrance of Yama’s house)
Jamun dey Jomke phota (Yamuna puts tilak on
Ami di amar bhai ke phota (Like Yamuna I put tilak on my
While sisters put tilak on their brothers’
forehead, conch shells are blown. On this occasion traditional Bengali Breakfast and
Lunch are prepared. Typical breakfast is Luchi and Aloo Dum. For lunch different types
of fish are made.
Sisters also offer Misti Doi or sweet curd to their
brothers. Sister also makes Payash or kheer for their brothers. Brothers and
sisters give gifts to each other after all rituals are over.
Legends of Bhai Phota in Kolkata
Bhai Phota, one of the most important
festivals of Bengali Hindus, has legends associated with it. One legend is about Lord
Krishna. As per this legend, Subhadra, sister of Lord Krishna, welcomed her brother
with a lamp and put a tilak on his forehead when Lord Krishna came back after killing
Another legend is associated with Rig Veda. Surya had twin children
named Yama and Yamuna. Yama was invited by Yamuna at her house. When Yama, the God of
Death, came to meet Yamuna, she prayed for prosperity, success and well being of her
Some legends of this festival are also associated
with Lord Mahavira and Lord Vishnu.
Modern Bhai Phota Celebrations in Kolkata
Kolkata is changing with the changing
world. Nowadays celebration of Bhai Phota has changed a lot in this city.
no more waiting for the sweets, snacks and other dishes made by their sisters or bought
from the market rather they want to celebrated this auspicious occasion in a renowned
restaurant or shopping mall having lunch or dinner and/or doing shopping or watching
movie at the multiplexes.
Nowadays, paper card and e-cards are sent to the brothers on
the occasion of Bhai Phota. Brothers also send online gifts to their sisters in
No matter how the ways of Bhai Phota celebration have changed but the
essence of this age-old remains the same and conveys the message of strong bonding
between brother and sisters.