The gift of health in Bhai Tika
One of the most treasured parts of the Bhai Tika ritual during Tihar is a packet of masala. A popular tradition at the end of the ritual is that of giving an assortment of dried fruits to the brothers by the sister. The festival of Bhai Tika celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters and the masala is not only delightful in taste and varied in texture, its contents also have many health benefits.
It is often said that the tradition of giving the assortment of dry fruits to the brothers started from the fact that, in the past, the brothers had to walk long distances to receive tika from their married sisters during this festival and the caring sister packed the dry fruits as a healthy snack pack for her brothers as they made their way back home. However, there exists another speculation which mentions that the sole reason of giving masala was the fact that it helps with digestion. Whatever be the reasons, the sisters, in form of masala packets, give the gift of health to their brothers.
However, over the period of time, there have been some changes in the tradition. Unlike older days when the sisters went to the market to shop for the ingredients themselves, choosing each item carefully, mixing and packing them, these days, they simply go to the supermarkets and the department stores and buy the readymade masala packets (mixed or singular). Traditionally, the items required for the masala packets are cashews, raisins, walnuts, dates, coconut, almonds, cardamom, cloves, beetle nuts, candy sugar (mishri), cinnamon, pistachio, dried apricots and dried figs. Also, added to the packet, these days, are the candies, mints and/or chewing gums.
The ingredients are then, mixed together in equal quantity or varying quantity (depending upon the quantity that has been brought). The coconuts need to be cut down into small pieces and some also cuts dates into two or four long slices. The walnuts, rather than using it whole, are broken and only the edible parts are used (the shops sells the shelled walnuts). These ingredients used also have many health benefits as some are rich in calcium and phosphorus and others in Vitamin making it a precious gift of health given by the sisters to their brothers in Bhai Tika.