a lei of protection
Nepal’s culture and history are drenched with folklore and festivals. For every event, there’s a story. One of my favorites is the story behind Bhai Tika (Brother’s Day).
King Bali Hang was very ill. His sister, Jamuna, watched over him day and night, praying he would be well again. But he only got worse. One day Yamaraj, the God of Death, came knocking on their door to claim the soul of King Bali Hang. Jamuna pled and bargained for her brother’s soul, but Yamaraj would not budge. Finally she begged for just a little more time with her brother. She had just completed the traditional Bhai Tika puja to honor her brother–She had smeared his forehead with some tikka, sprinkled his face with water, and adorned his neck with a garland of the round bright magenta flowers, Supadi Phool. She tearfully told Yamaraj he could have her brother after three things happens: the tikka fades, the water dries and the flowers wilt.
It seemed like a fair deal to Yamaraj. So he waited. Soon enough, the tikka faded and the water dried. But the flowers would not wilt. Tired of waiting. he left. Over the next year, every now and then Yamaraj sent someone to check on the Supadi Phool. The flowers simply refused to wilt. When the next Bhai Tika arrived, Yamaraj came knocking again. But this time, it was to honor Jumuna’s love for her brother and to grant King Bali Hang a very long and healthy life.
Bhai Tika continues to be a major festival today with plenty of color and flamboyance. Sisters present brothers with fruit, gifts and a lei of flowers that represent their prayers for protection over and a long life for their brothers. (Check out the pictures on Google.)