Nepal celebrates Bhai tika amid coronavirus pandemic

Nepal on Monday celebrated the sibling festival of Bhai Tika with less fanfare and gaiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which is increasing the toll in the Himalayan Nation. On the occasion of Bhai Tika, sisters throughout the nation offered tika to their brothers wishing them happiness, long life, and prosperity. Brothers, in return pledge, to protect their sisters from all kinds of adversities. Bhai Tika which is one of five days of Tihar or Diwali places brothers and sisters on centre furbishing and improving relations between them. On this day, brothers are seated at a specially anointed place, around which a trail of mustard oil and sacred water is drawn, which is meant to be the line which Yama - Lord of Death - is believed would not be able to cross. After securing brothers from Yama, sisters then offer brothers garlands of Marigold, Dubo, and Makhamali along with seven coloured Tika on the foreheads, which has its own significance. Along with brothers, sisters are treated with varieties of sweets, walnut, spices, and "Selroti" oil-cooked bread made of rice flour. Following the tradition, which is deep-rooted in Nepali society, those who do not have their own brothers and sisters receive Tika from others whom they regard as brothers and sisters. This year, brothers who do not have sisters thronged the Balgopaleshwor Temple in the middle of Rani Pokhari or the Queen's Pond and received tika there. Bhai Tika is generally marked on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha, which is believed to further strengthen the bond between brothers and sisters. This year, the festival has been marred due to COVID-19 pandemic.