The Tika Ritual
October 12, 2014
On the tenth day of the 15-day long Dashain Festival, Nepali families prepare a plate with a beautiful array of colors: orange, yellow, and black powders, green blades of grass, red and white ribbons, and a sticky red substance made from rice grains and yogurt. These items each have a role in the beautiful and intimate Dashain ritual of “Tikas”.
One by one, the family members approach an elder to receive this ritual. The elder dabs the colored powders onto their foreheads and places the Tika itself (the thick clump of red-dyed rice grains). Afterward, the elder gives small gifts such as fruits, sweets, or Nepali rupees, along with the blades of grass called “jamara” (which the family members tuck behind their ears). Jamara is planted on the first day of Dashain and by the 10th day has grown up to six inches tall. Finally, the elder wraps the red and white ribbons around their necks.
The items in this ritual all come together to create a blessing of good health, fortune, and future. The red color of the Tika itself represents the blood that bonds the family, a perfect symbol for a ritual that brings the whole family together and strengthens family ties.