According to the Hindu culture, Bhai Dooj celebrates the bond of love and protection among siblings. Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the second lunar day of ‘Shukla Paksha’ in the Hindu calendar month of Kartika, which is two days after the Diwali festivity. This year, Bhai Dooj is being celebrated on 5th November and the ‘shubh muhrat’ has been designated from 13:10 to 15:21.
On this auspicious day, sisters pray to God for the longevity, good health, and happiness of their brother. Sisters perform the ritual with a decorated thali containing sweets, roli, and coconut. The sisters perform the aarti after putting tilak or a vermillion mark on the forehead of the brother. After that sweets are offered to the brother by the sister, and in return the brother pampers the sisters with gifts.
The celebration of Bhai Dooj has a strict importance connected to it. ‘Bhai‘ signifies brother and ‘Dooj‘ signifies the second day after the new moon which is a day of festivity. In Hinduism, the day holds a special significance in the lives of siblings. This propitious event not just remembers the bond between two other opposite-gender siblings but at the same time is said to shield them from the detestable and evil powers and get new hopes and thrive their lives.
Bhai Dooj is celebrated in different parts of the country with different rituals and has various folk tales associated with it. The festival is known as Bhai Phota in West Bengal, Bhau Beej in Maharashtra and Yama Dwitiya in southern India. In Haryana, dry coconut is tied with kalawa thread and offered at the time of aarti, and tilak is applied on the forehead of the brother by the sister. Bhai Dooj is celebrated with sisters applying tilak on the brother’s forehead along with chanting a special mantra.
There are few Hindu mythological based stories related to the origin of this propitious day. According to one story, it is believed that after defeating the evil demon Narakasura, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra. His sister gave him a heartfelt welcome with sweets and flowers. She then applied the vermillion tilak on Krishna’s forehead.
Another fable revolves around the story of Yama, the God of death. It is said that Lord Yama visited his beloved sister, Yamuna on Dwitiya, the second day after the new moon and she welcomed him with a tilak ceremony, garlanded him and fed him special dishes. They feasted together after a long time and also exchanged gifts. After the occasion, Lord Yama, announced that whoever receives tilak from his sister on this particular day will enjoy a long life.
Bhai Phota is a Hindu celebration celebrated in the state of West Bengal on the Dwitya or the second day after the Kali Puja. Bhai Phota is a celebration that fortifies the bond of love and warmth between two siblings. Bhai Phota is a simple ritual but has a deep meaning attached to it. The sister applies ‘Phota‘ or ’tilak’ on her sibling’s forehead in the midst of the reciting of mantras. This ‘Tilak’ is a paste of ‘chandan‘ (sandalwood) or ‘kaajol‘ or ‘doi‘ (yogurt), which depends on the customs of the household. On the off chance that the sister is senior to the sibling, she applies ‘Phota’ with the little finger of her left hand while the child sister applies phota with their right hand. Following the tilak ceremony, younger siblings touch the feet of the older sibling and seek their ‘aashirvaad’ or blessing. The elder siblings bless the younger ones with ‘Durba’ and rice grains. Then gifts are exchanged and sweets are offered. The sister fasts for the life-long prosperity of the brother until the ceremony is conducted.
Bhaubeej is a festival dedicated to siblings. Bhaubeej is celebrated in Maharashtra. It is celebrated on the fifth day of Deewali. Shrikhand poori or Basundi poori is served at this festival. Dhanatrayodashi, Narakchaturdashi, Amavasya Balipratipada, and Yamadvitiya (Bhaubeej) are the five days of Diwali. Bahubeej is commended on the last day. Brothers are viewed as the defenders of the sisters in the Hindu religion. The sisters perform aarti and pray to God for the good health and happiness of their brother. Sisters invite their brother for a feast on Bhaubeej in Maharashtra. Those who do not have a brother, are supposed to perform a puja to the Moon-God.
Bhai Dooj is known as Yama Dwitiya in South India. Folklore of Yama Dwitiya is related to the God of death – Yama Dharma Raj. He visits his sister Yamis home on this day. According to Hindu customs, this festival reflects the love and bond between a brother and a sister. It is celebrated two days after Diwali. It is said and believed that people who worship Yam Dev do not have to face an early death. The sister applies Tilak on the forehead of their brother and prays for the longevity of their brothers. Then gifts are exchanged. In return, brothers take a pledge to their sister’s safety. According to the tradition, brothers must have a meal in the house of their sister.