The festive season is in full swing in India. And I hope you liked our series on festivals presented by our authors. Well, the series is still on as we venture into more and more festivals approaching in their own unique fashion. Today the focus is on Bhai Dooj, a festival to celebrate the affection between brother and sister. Many of our readers must have read about Raksha Bandhan is one of our articles posted earlier. Bhai Dooj is similar to it only the rituals are bit different. Yet the spirit is the same, defining the warmth and love between a sister and a brother.
The Myth of Bhai Dooj
In one of the Hindu mythological tales, it is believed that the first Bhai Dooj was started by Yamini, the sister of Hindu God of death Yamraj. Yamraj and Yamini were children of the Sun God. Yamini requested her brother innumerable times and finally could convince him to pay her a visit to her house. She was so overwhelmed that she fed Yamraj with her hands. She even applied a tilak (a coloured mark on forehead) on his forehead and wished for his long life. Yamraj was moved by her generosity and love. He wanted to grant a boon to his sister. Yamini wished her brother to visit her every year and any sister who applies tilak on the forehead of his brother will never fear the god of death, Yamraj. Her wish was granted and hence started the ritual of Bhai Dooj.
Another Hindu mythological story about Bhai Dooj is also popular. It’s about Lord Krishna and his sister Subhadra. When the Lord returned back to his kingdom after defeating the demon Narakasura, his sister welcomed him with sweets, fruits and flowers and even lit up diyas (earthen lamps). She applied a tilak on his forehead and wished for his long life. The love and affection between them initiated the Bhau Dooj custom.
Bhai Dooj is celebrated immediately after Diwali in India. The sisters perform fast before performing the rituals. A plate is decorated with the various items – sandal, vermillion, betel nut, flowers and sweets. An aarti is performed by the sister on the brother, essentially its a tradition of Hindu religion. The tilak is then applied by the sister on the brother’s forehead chanting a few religious hymns. They wish each other a long and healthy life and then presented with gifts. A short and sweet ceremony yet with deep affection and fondness embedded into its essence and culture.
Bhai Dooj is known by varying names in different states of India. In West Bengal (East India), the sister invites her brother to her house. She then applies tilak and prepares a sumptuous lunch for him. It eventually results in a small family gathering. The ceremony is popularly known as Bhai Phonta in the state.
In Maharashtra (West India) the custom is known as Bhao Beej. The sister performs aarti and applies tilak and then both brother and sister exchange gifts.
In Uttar Pradesh (north India), a special custom is performed wherein the sister offers crystallized sugar cubes and water to her brother.
In Bihar (east India), the ritual is bit unusual. The sister first scolds her brother, apologizes and then follows the custom.
In the southern parts of India, the festival is known as Bhaghini Hastha Bhojanamu.
Admin and Author
A blogger interested in travelling and exploring new places and sharing ideas with all. Curious about the unique features of a place and its ethereal beauty.