New Delhi: In a show of communal harmony, 50 Hindu and Muslim women have applied “Bhai Phonta” on the foreheads of around 100 men of both the communities in West Bengal’s Nadia district.
Organisers said the tradition involving both the communities for the festival — that commemorates the bond between brothers and sisters — is over a century old and used to be organised at the 300-year-old Birohi Madan Gopal Mandir in the district.
“However, the number of people taking part in the tradition declined over time and the ritual lost its sheen.
So, we decided to revive it,” said Dilip Roy, secretary of a public library, Manmatha Roy Smriti Sadharan Pathagar, where the programme was organised on Monday.
The “revived” inter-community “Bhai Phonta” event was organised for the first time at the library last year, he said.
While 70-year-old Debi Roy was the eldest woman to participate in the event, the youngest was only six years old.
“I intend to apply ‘phonta’ every year on the foreheads of more brothers taking part in the event,” Roy said.
Rabial Biswas, a Muslim man who took part in the event, said, “I felt happy upon receiving the ‘phonta’ from Hindu sisters. This festival should be organised every year.”
Gour Ghosh, one of the organisers, said that Hindu and Muslim women handed over packets of sweets to their brothers of both the communities after applying ‘phonta’ on their foreheads.
“This ritual will strengthen national integrity,” he added.