Celebrated on the second day after the new moon during Diwali, Bhai Dooj is a lovely festival that honors the relationship of a brother and sister. It is a part of the popular Diwali festivities and Indians all over the world enjoy it. Females pray for their brother’s well- being and happiness as it is known to be propitious. Bhau Beej, Bhai Phota, Bhai Tika, Bhagini Hastha Bhojanamu, Bhatru Dwitiya, Yama Dwitiya, etc. are a few other names for Bhai Dooj. While this day is dedicated to the love and affection among siblings, it is also an auspicious time to perform good deeds or even make a new purchase.
The incredible festival of Bhai Dooj celebrated during Diwali has different stories associated with it. Its history is rooted in mythological tales and each region of the country has their own belief about Bhai Dooj. As Bhai Dooj falls after Naraka Chaturdashi, it is said that Lord Krishna visited His sister Subhadra after defeating Narakasura, the demon. She welcomed Him happily and also showered flowers to appreciate His victory. Subhadra applied a Tilak on Lord Krishna’s forehead and offered sweets. This is where the Bhai Dooj festival originated and the custom of visiting the sister’s house began.
There is another story about the origin of the Bhai Dooj festival. Lord Yama, the God of death visited his sister Yamuna on Dwitiya (second day) after the new moon day. He received a grand welcome and the environment was filled with rejoice. Further, Yamuna applied a Tilak/Tika on his forehead and offered a garland. She prepared sweets & special treats for him and both of them spent the evening together. They also gave gifts to each other and celebrated the day to signify the unbreakable bond between brother and sister. From this moment, Lord Yama declared that a man who gets Tilak applied by his sister will be blessed with a long and healthy life. This is also one of the reasons why Bhai Dooj is known as Yama Dwitiya.
It is the day signifying the pure love between a brother and sister. Bhai Dooj is the day when sisters and brothers pray for each other’s well-being and protection. As mythological references glorify Bhai Dooj, it becomes an important festival to get together and celebrate the loving relation of siblings. Brothers promise to protect their sisters and support through ups and downs.
How is Bhai Dooj celebrated?
Bhai Dooj rituals are carried out by brother and sister that includes performing Aarti and gifting. Ideally, the brother visits his sister’s house to celebrate Bhai Dooj. Families gather and enjoy this festival together. Sumptuous meals are prepared along with special Diwali snacks & sweets. Everyone is well-dressed in traditional attire and after the rituals, every family celebrates this evening as per their choice. Brothers and sisters exchange unique gifts and promise to protect each other. This is a common way of celebrating Bhai Dooj but there are different rites followed on Bhai Dooj by different communities in India.
It is known as Bhai Phonta in West Bengal where the brothers are treated with delicious food and grand feasts are also held. The girls who are older than 5 years observe a fast from morning till the evening. They apply a “Tika/Tilak” made of ghee, kohl and sandalwood paste on the brother’s forehead. This is done for the long life of the brother and to complete the ritual, sweets are fed to the brother.
In Maharashtra, it is called “Bhau Beej” and the sister invites brother to her residence. They enjoy a wonderful dinner together with festive delicacies. Bhau Beej rituals like performing aarti and exchange of gifts are done. The brother touches the sister’s feet and seeks blessings of longevity.
Apart from this, Nepal also celebrates Bhai Dooj with great excitement and fervor. It is known as Bhai Tika and a wonderful time of the year to unite with the family. Sisters pray to Lord Yama for the long life of their brothers and a special 7 colored Tika is applied on the forehead. Maithali, Chhetri, Bahun, Newari and Tharu communities from Nepal celebrate Bhai Dooj too and revel in the family reunion.
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