Support Elders’ member, Mr Malaynil Dasgupta, shares with Rangana Bhattacharya his remembrance of a festival close to his heart.
I remember coming to Kolkata in 2001. It was a mixed experience. Leaving Northeast where I had stayed for so many years, I didn’t enjoy the experience of relocating to Kolkata. It was a compulsive move, driven primarily by career choice. The very idea of leaving my cousins and relatives behind on the eve of Bhai phota (or bhai dooj) and settling so far away was particularly painful.
Bhai phota has always had a special significance for me. Celebrating it with my younger brothers and sisters, Bhai phota has always been a complete family affair. Sitting around in a circle on the floor, we brothers used to take turns in taking the ‘phota’ (or the holy dot) from our sisters. Sitting in a row, they used to take turns in putting phota on our foreheads and we used to shower them with blessings. It was imperative for us to give gifts to our younger siblings on this special day. I used to work in the Railways and needed to travel extensively around Northeast, especially Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Assam. Many a times I had important work commitments, but I always made it a point to be with my sister for Bhai phota.
Let me share an incident about Bhai phota. I have a sister who is very attached to me. Like every year, she had planned to gift me a shirt. Deciding beforehand on a shopping trip together, we excitedly went to a shop and started looking for a good shirt. Suddenly, one of her school friends walked into the shop with her mother. Not liking too much social attention, I tried to shy away from the ladies, much to my sister’s annoyance. She held my hand and pulled me into their conversation. I was very uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with girls and tried to escape my sister’s grip. Finally, I succeeded in freeing myself from her grip and in the middle of an engaging conversation, I walked out abruptly. I did not care that she was angry at my sudden departure and came back home, leaving her with her friends. A quarrel ensued and our fight was so terrible that I remember not taking phota from her that Bhai phota!
The tradition of Bhai phota has always enthralled me. Other than Raksha bandhan this was the only occasion where I could show my love for my sister. I have stayed in Siliguri for fourteen years and that is a place where Bhai dooj is celebrated with great pomp and ceremony. It is a token of love between brothers and sisters. I will always fondly remember celebrating Bhai phota with my family; and till date, barring the one incident mentioned above, I have always tried to be present for the occasion to earn my sister’ love and affection. Even at this age, it is a festive ritual I do not miss under any circumstance.
pic courtesy: By Aashish Jethra - Flickr: Mithai, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29529481
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