Bhai Dooj (Bhaiya Dooj)

Indians are known worldwide for maintaining relationships be it friends, family, or brothers and sisters. The Hindus value and praise every association with outsiders as well as within the family. And as the years pass by, the bonding just gets stronger and stronger. In fact, there is a custom of celebrating family association. One such practice that has never been diminished since ages is the celebration of unmatched emotional connection between brother and sister.

Bhai Dooj

The relationship between brother and sister is very special. It is genuine, sacred and lovable. It is also spiritual, emotional and never ending or fading. These siblings share lots of fun, affection and good rapport in a family. There is a deep attachment and between them. To respect and strengthen this divine brotherly and sisterly contact, the Hindus celebrate a festival in India which is known as Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dhoj. This festival is called by many regional names such as Bhai Phota (in Bengal and Haryana), Bhai Tika (in Uttranchal and Nepal), Bhau Beej or Bhau Bij (in Maharashtra), Ningol Chakuba (in Manipur). Other names for this festival are: Bhatri Ditya, Yama Dwitiya, and Bhathru Dwitiya.

Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the second day of Diwali which is a second new moon day. In Hindi, bhai means 'brother,' and dooj is referred to 'second day after Diwali or the new moon.' It is traditionally associated with a sister's love for her brother. On this day, she cleans the puja ghar and prepares a thali with colourful tikka (vermilion), and a diya (lamp) for aarti. The lamp in the thali is lighted and rotated in front of him for aarti. The holy flame is passed towards him by hand which is a metaphor of protection against all evil spirits. Then, she applies the tikka on his forehead. She prays to God for the well-being and protection of her brother. She also affirms to fulfill all the commitments for against him. In return, she gets gifts in the form of money, dress and sweets.

Myths and Significance

This festival is a lifelong commitment between brothers and sisters. There are two occasions in a year that make the essence of this relationship. The first one is the Raksha Bandhan in which sisters tie Rakhis on their brothers' wrists and seek promise from them for her protection. And in Bahi Dooj, she affirms protection for brothers.

On this day, married sisters go to their brothers' home and celebrate the festival with their parents. In India, brothers call their sisters one day before the festival so that they get some time to share with family. Unmarried sisters take all the responsibilities of preparation on their shoulders. They go to the bazaar and do the necessary shopping before the festival. They are the ones who get up early in the morning and engage themselves in cooking sweet dishes for their brothers.

According to myths, on this day, Yamraj, the lord of death goes to visit his sister Yami at her in-laws place. Seeing her brother at his home, she welcomes her by performing aarti and applying tilak of his over the brows, and bless him for his long life. Hence, Bhai Dooj is also known as Yama Dwitiya. This sister act also symbolizes that brothers applying colour on their front face by sister's hand on this day would never have to face hell in their lives.

Another ancient story says that Lord Krishna visits his sister Subhadra on this day after killing a demon called Narakasura. His sister welcomes him and greet for his victory. Then she performs an aarti and applies tilak on Krishna's upper part of the face for his protection.

Bhai Dooj Celebration

Bhai Dooj is celebrated all over India on the second day of Diwali. In Bengal, the sisters keep fast on this day. Sandalwood paste and applies it on brother's forehead. People in Uttranchal use three to four different coloured vermilions. First, girls apply a straight long white tikka on the flat part of the face with the help of a toothpick of a matchstick. Then, they apply a spot of other colours on the forehead in equal distance. In Maharashtra also there is a tradition of applying vermilions on the forehead. Mostly, red colour is used in all places in this day. The reason behind applying it is to express sisters love and devotion for brothers well-being and long life. Girls, whether married or unmarried apply Mehendi on their hands.

Bhai Dooj is celebrated once a year and it is most awaited and looked forward festival by brothers and sisters. It helps to reunite family, especially girls who are with their in-laws. Parents feel happy to see such a bonding among their kids. Sisters cook foods liked by their brothers, including sweet dishes. People also invite friends and relatives over dinner to raise the festival spirit higher.