Bhai Dooj Festival
Bhai Dooj is a popular Indian festival that cherishes the sanctity of the pious relationship shared between brothers and sisters. Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the last day of the five-day-long Diwali Festival that comes in Hindu month of Kartik (Oct-Nov). As the word Dooj suggests Bhai Dooj fall on the second day after new moon. On this day sisters pray for their brothers long life as they apply sacred red tilak on their forehead and perform arti of them. Brothers express gratitude for their sisters affection and promise to care for them always. The festival helps to strengthen relationship between siblings and foster stronger family bonds.
Festival of Bhai Dooj is known by various regional names including Bhai Tika, Yamadwitheya, Bhai Phota, Bhaubeej, Bhathru Dwithiya and Bhatri Ditya. In some places customs of the festival also vary but everywhere the festival glorifies the relationship between brother and a sister.
Legends of Bhai Dooj Festival
Popular legend behind the festival of Bhai Dooj narrates the story of Yamaraj - the custodian of death in Hindu mythology and his twin sister Yami or Yamuna. Legend goes that once Yamaraj met Yamuna after a long period of separation on the auspicious day of Dooj. Yami welcomed her brother with exceptional warmth and affection. She applied tilak on Dharamrajs forehead and performed arti of him. Yami also treated her brother with his favorite dishes. Yama was so pleased with the welcome. He declared that whosoever gets a tilak and meal from sister on Dooj will never be pushed to hell. Since then siblings have been religiously celebrating Bhai Dooj or Yama Dwitheya.
Rituals of Bhai Dooj
On the day of Bhai Dooj brothers visit their sisters to have a meal with them. The tradition is explained in Sanskrit with, Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam that means having a meal with sister. At some places brothers and sisters also take a dip in the holy waters of river Yamuna. Some communities also follow the custom of worshipping Chitragupta - the mythical record keeper of Lord Yamaraj.
After invoking the blessings of family deity sisters apply sacred red tilak on brothers head and place some rice grains on the tilak. She performs arti of brother by rotating the Puja Thali in circles around brother and prays for his longevity and happiness. After this, she puts a sweet in brothers mouth. Sister also chants a mantra as she performs the ceremony:
Bhratus tabaa grajaataaham, Bhunksa bhaktamidam shuvam Preetaye yama raajasya, Yamunaah Visheshatah.
This means: I'm your sister, Eat this sacred rice, For the pleasure of Yam Raj and Yamuna.
Brothers bless their sisters and promise to protect them from all adversities in life. They also pamper sister with loads of Bhai Tika gifts or some cash. Sisters too take opportunity of the occasion and indulge brothers with loads of gifts ranging from sweets, dry fruits and chocolates to Shirts, wristwatches and mobile phones.
Sisters who are unable to meet their brother on Bhai Dooj send Tika by means of post or courier. In present time Bhai Tika Greetings are also exchanged by means of Tika E-cards. Tika Gifts are exchanged through Bhai Dooj Gifts shopping sites.
Bhai Dooj Celebrations
Brothers and sisters in India celebrate festival of Bhai Dooj with utmost joy and enthusiasm. They eagerly wait for the festival that helps to strengthen the bond of love they share with each other. In a festive and harmonious atmosphere brothers and sisters relive sweet memories of childhood and enjoy togetherness. Whole family relishes best of festive food and spends a good time.