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Legends of Bhai Dooj
Read about the most interesting legends behind the fascinating festival of Bhai Dooj! Also called Bhai Phota, Bhai Dooj cherishes the beauty of the pious relationship shared between brother and sister and helps to strengthen it with the sacred red tilak. Most legends of Bhai Dooj go back to the mythological times and lays emphasis on the sanctity of brother - sister bond. One may also notice that customs of Bhai Dooj have been derived from the legends related to the festival.

Legend of Yamraj and Yamuna
This is the most popular legend of Bhai Dooj Festival. It is from this legend that Bhai Dooj gets the name of 'Yama Dwiteeya'. The story goes that Lord Yamraj - the Hindu mythological God of Death had a twin sister called Yamuna or Yami. Yamuna, too, holds great importance in Indian mythology as she was transformed into the holy river also called Yamuna.

It is said that Yamaraj paid a visit to Yami after a long period of separation on the auspicious day of ‘Dooj’. A loving sister, Yami received her brother with exceptional warmth. She applied sacred red tilak on Yamraj’s forehead, performed arti and gave him a small gift and sweet to eat. Yami also treated her brother with a sumptuous meal. Dharamraj was overwhelmed with sister’s love and affection. He declared that brother’s who receive tilak from a sister on Dooj day and takes a meal with her will never be hurled to hell. Yamraj also said that brothers must give a gift to sister as a token of appreciation for her love and care. Since then began the custom of celebrating Bhai Dooj.

Legend of Lord Vishnu and King Bali
This very interesting legend says that when Lord Vishnu in the Vamana avatar hurled King Bali to Patalalok (the nether world) he granted the latter a boon for his good behavior. To this King Bali asked that Lord Vishnu be there on every door of Patalaloka. Keeping the promise, Lord Vishnu became the Dwarpalaka of Bali. However, Lord Vishnu’s wife Goddess Lakshmi became extremely distressed when she received this news from Narad. To bring her husband back, Goddess Lakshmi plays a trick on Bali.

Appearing before King Bali in the garb of poor woman, Goddess Lakshmi says she does not have a brother and is desperately looking for one to guard her. The generous King Bali accepts to be her brother and says she could ask anything from him. Taking opportunity of the situation, Goddess Lakshmi requests that her husband - Lord Vishnu be released. Thus, Lord Vishnu was released from Bali’s service.

Legend of Lord Mahavir
This legend says that after the nirvana of Lord Mahavira - the founder of Jainism, his brother King Nandivardhan became extremely distressed. Nandivardhan missed his brother a lot and was unable to bear his absence. It is said King Nandivardhan returned to normalcy due to the love and care given by his sister Sudarshana. This episode enhanced the respect for sisters in the society and women began to be revered on Bhai Dooj.

Legend of Lord Krishna
Lord Krishna is also associated with the legend of Bhai Dooj. The story goes that after slaying the mighty demon Narakasur, Krishna paid a visit to sister Subhadra. An affectionate sister, Subhadra met her brother warmly and welcomed him with flowers and sweets. She applied tilak on Krishna’s forehead, performed arti and gave him sweets to eat. From then on began the custom of sisters’ applying tilak on brothers’ forehead on Bhai Dooj.
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