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Regional Names of Bhai Dooj
Enchanting festival of Bhai Dooj is known by various interesting regional names in different parts of India. It is fascinating to note that along with the name, rituals and the legends behind the festival differ because of the linguistic and cultural variation in different states of the country. What remains remarkably same though is the enthusiasm of siblings for the festival and sister’s sincerest prayers to the divine for the health and long life of her brother. Every year and everywhere Bhai Dooj helps to strengthen relationship between siblings as they renew the promise to take care of each other.

Bhai Phota / Bhai Fota / Bhai Fonta
Bhaubeej / Bhav Bij
Bhai Tika / Bhai Teeka / Bhai Tihar
Bhatru Dwitheya / Bhatri Dwitheya
Bhatri Ditya / Yama Ditya
Yamadwitheya

Bhai Phota / Bhai Fota / Bhai Fonta
Bhai Phota or Bhai Fota is a popular name for Bhai Dooj festival in the state of West Bengal. The festival falls on the ‘Dviteya’ or ‘Dooj’ day that is the second day after the Kali Puja. Rituals of Bhai Phota vary slightly from the Bhai Duj ceremonies observed in North India. Here sisters apply a special tilak that is a paste of ‘chandan’ (sandalwood), 'kaajol' and 'doi' (yogurt). A sister elder to brother applies ‘Phota’ using the little finger of her left hand while sister younger to brother applies phota using her right hand. Later, when brother touches the feet of sister he is given rice grains and 'Durba' (blades of grass) as blessing of long and happy life by the sister.

Bhaubeej / Bhav Bij
Bhai Dooj festival is better known as Bhaubeej or Bhav Bij amongst the Marathi speaking community in the states of Maharashtra and Goa. Rituals of Bhav Bij have been derived from the legend of Narakasura Vadh. Story goes that Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasura and freed the earth from fear. It is said that the Lord tasted a bitter fruit called ‘Karith’ in Marathi before he killed Narakasura. After the incident, Lord Krishna went to meet sister Subhadra who gave him a warm welcome with tilak and arti. The tradition of celebrating Bhaubeej is being followed since this episode.

Following a special custom of Bhaubij, sister prepares a special square shaped space on the floor and decorates it with corn powder. Before the brother is asked to step inside this sacred square he is made to taste the bitter fruit Karith. With this ritual, the brother stands symbolic of Lord Krishna who performed the noble act of killing the demon Narakasura. After the ceremony Maharashtra’s special sweets Basundi Poori and Shrikhand Poori are relished by all.

Bhai Tika / Bhai Teeka / Bhai Tihar
Bhai Tika and Bhai Tihar are the prominent names for Bhai-Dooj in Nepal. The festival gets the name of Bhai Tihar because the Festival of Light is known as Tihar in Nepal. Bhai Tika is celebrated on the fifth day of Tihar or ‘Panchak Yama’ festival. A unique Bhai Tika custom is followed in Nepal wherein sister draws three mandaps or boundaries one each for Lord Ganesh, Janmaraj (the God of birth) and Yamaraj at a designated place. Another boundary is drawn around the brother with oil using doob grass. This boundary is believed to ensure that no one including Yamaraj can harm the brother who is lovingly guarded by a sister. Tika used in Bhai Teeka ceremony is also unique and consists of five colours (red, green, blue, yellow and white) and is known as ‘Paanch Rangi Tika’.

Bhatru Dwitheya / Bhatri Dwitheya
As Bhai Dooj falls on the ‘Dwitheya’ day or the second day after new moon, it is also known as Bhatru Dwitheya or Bhatri Dwitheya. To mark the festival brothers and sisters take bath in the sacred waters of river Yamuna. Sisters’ worship berry trees, apply the customary tika and perform arti of their brothers as they pray for their long life.

On the day of Bhatri Dwitheya it is customary for brothers to visit sister and share a meal with them. The tradition is called ‘Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam’ in Sanskrit. It means, sharing a meal prepared by the sister. It is believed that brothers who follow this tradition are never hurled to hell. The custom has its roots in the legend of Yamaraj who visited his twin sister Yami or Yamuna on the dooj day. Yama was greeted with tika and a sumptuous meal. The very pleased Yamaraj declared that whosoever receives a tika and meal from sister on a Dwitheya day will not be pushed to hell. Some also worship Lord Yamaraj and his mythical record keeper Chithraguptha on the Bhatru Dwitheya day.

Bhatri Ditya / Yama Ditya
Fifth day of Diwali festival is also knows as Bhatri Ditya. Here the word ‘Ditya’ denotes that the festival is celebrated on the second day after new moon and ‘Bhatri’ means brother. Following the rituals brothers visit their sister to share a meal with them. Sister applies tika on brother’s forehead and performs arti of him while praying for his longevity and happiness. Brothers bless their sisters and shower gifts on them. As the tradition has its roots in the legend of Yamaraj, the day is also called Yama Ditya.

Yamadwitheya
Festival of Bhai Dooj gets the name of Yamadwitheya from the popular legend of Bhai Dooj. The story goes that on the auspicious ‘Dwitheya’ day (second day after new moon) Lord Yamaraj - the Hindu God of Death met his twin sister Yami or Yamuna after a long period of separation. Yami welcomed her brother with utmost warmth. She applied sacred red tilak on Yama’s forehead, performed arti of him and presented him a lavish meal. Dharamaraj was so happy with the welcome from Yami that he declared whosoever receives tilak and meal from his sister on Dooj day will not be pushed to hell. Ever since the tradition set by Yamaraj and Yami is being followed every year by brothers and sisters in India as they celebrate Yamadwitheya.
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