Just two days after the festival of lights ‘Diwali’, it’s a beautiful occasion for sisters to express their love and care for their brothers. The occasion is Bhai Dooj, a popular Hindu festival when sisters pray to God for their brothers to get a happy and prosperous life. This year Bhai Dooj falls on 21st October, Saturday. As per the Gregorian calendar, Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the second day of Shukla Paksha in the month of Kartika (between October and November). The auspicious second day is also known as ‘dooj’ or ‘dwithiya’, thus giving it the name Bhai Dooj or Bhathru Dwithiya. Bhai Dooj is celebrated in many parts of India and Nepal. It is an important festival in West Bengal, Bihar, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Bhai Dooj is known by various names; for eg, Bhau Beej (in Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka), Bhai Tika (in Nepal), Bhathru Dwithiya, Bhau-deej, Bhai Phota (in Bengal), and Ningol Chakuba (in Manipur).
History of Bhai Dooj
As per ancient beliefs, it is said that on the second day after the new moon, Yamraj visited his sister Yami, who welcomed him with tilak and aarti followed by a great feast. In return for all the love and gesture, Yamraj gave her a unique gift that who would visit his sister and receive tilak and aarti on the dwithiya of Sukla Paksha in the Kartik month, should not fear death. Another popular story in Hindu Mythology is that Lord Krishna, after killing Narakasur, went to meet his sister Subhadra. Subhadra welcomed him in the traditional way by performing aarti and putting a tilak on his forehead after his remarkable victory.
How to celebrate Bhai Dooj
Traditional rituals are followed in the ‘tika’ ceremony. The brothers are made to sit on a seat made by rice flour. Then, the sisters apply a paste of rice and sindoor on the brothers’ arms, followed by the offering of kaddu (pumpkin) flowers, betel leaves, betel nut and coins. Thereafter, the tika is applied and the aarti is performed. In Bengal, sisters apply ‘phonta’or sandalwood paste and kajal is used to put tilak on their brothers’ forehead. In Nepal, seven colours are used to adorn the forehead of the brothers.
Bhai Dooj is also the time for merry-making and elaborate meals with the family. In Maharashtra, a sweet dish ‘basundi poori’ is made on Bhai Dooj. In Bengal, a special snack glazed with sugary syrup called the khaja is essential to the festival.
Significance of Bhai Dooj
Bhai Dooj has a greater significance as it symbolises the beautiful bond of a sister and brother. It is celebrated in almost every state, with a different name. On the auspicious day, sisters pray to God to bless their brothers and protect them from all the troubles. It reunites and renews the love and relationship of brothers and sisters. Bhai Dooj signifies the affection and warmth in the relationship between a brother and sister.