Mamata marks ‘Bhai Phonta’ with her guards, journos

October 28th, 2011 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Mamata Banerjee Kolkata, Oct 28 (IANS) West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee Friday put ‘phonta’ (sacred mark) on her security guards and also several journalists as the whole state celebrated ‘Bhai Phonta’, a festival dedicated to sibling bonding with sisters putting the mark on their brothers’ forehead to wish for their long life.

Banerjee took pains to apply phonta on each of her “brothers”, who also included her guards, several media persons and sundry visitors. Along with putting sweets in their mouth, she also blessed and wished a long and prosperous life for them.

Since morning, Bengali houses reverberated with the sound of conch shells marking the beginning of the festivities. The sisters, traditionally dressed and with full sincerity and humility applied the phonta, a paste of ‘chandan’ (sandalwood), ‘kaajol’ and ‘doi’ (yogurt) on their brothers’ forehead amidst the chanting of mantras.

Several politicos and celebrities used the festival to foster social bonding. State Labour Minister Purnendu Bose took phonta from the inmates of Hooghly’s Uttarpara Mahila Home, while Trinamool Congress lawmaker Paresh Pal had street children as his sisters.

Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Mohammad Salim along with several Tollywood actors took phonta from orphan children and thalassemia patients.

“This is a festival unique only to India. This is a not only a symbol of sibling bonding but it also fosters social bonding,” said Salim.

City Mayor Sovon Chatterjee not only became a brother to the sex workers in a north Kolkata red light area but also gave them a valuable gift - a health-insurance card. The policy will benefit the holders with an annual insurance of Rs.30,000.

Trinamool Congress lawmaker and famed movie star Shatabdi Roy too celebrated the festival wishing for prosperity and long life for her brothers.

“Usually I remain too busy and hardly find time for family. But for today I have kept aside all work and dedicated the whole day to my brothers,” said Roy as she applied phonta on her brother’s forehead.

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