The importance of family ties, the knot of love and affection that keeps all relationships alive and refreshed is the underlying theme of most of the Indian festivals. The relationship shared by a brother and sister is considered very pious and trustworthy in the Hindu culture; hence, it is celebrated twice a year in the form of festivals, namely, Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj. Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya in the Hindi month of Kartik, which falls on the second day after Diwali and marks the conclusion of the five-day long Diwali celebrations. The underlying meaning of celebrating this day is the unbroken bond of affection and warmth between a brother and sister. The festival is known by different names in diverse regions of India. Say, in northern India, it is referred to as Bhai-Dooj, whereas in Maharashtra, it is celebrated as Bhav-Bij. Similarly, it is known as Bhai-Phota in Bengal and Bhai-Teeka in Nepal. Keep reading the article to find more intriguing details about this charming festival.
Legends behind Bahi Dooj
The origins of Bhai Dooj can be traced back to Hindu mythology. As per the legend, Lord Yamaraj (God of Death as per Hindu religion) paid a visit to his sister Yami on this day. His sister was overjoyed to see him and performed traditional welcoming ceremony wherein she performed aarti, applied tilak on his forehead and adorned his neck with a fragrant fresh flower garland. She, then, served mouthwatering dishes to her brother. Both sat and talked to each other to their hearts content. Before leaving, Yamraj bestowed various gifts on his sister and declared that whosoever brother visited his sister on this day shall be blessed with prosperity and longevity. Hence, the day also came to be known as Yam-Dwitiya.
According to another legend, this day marks the occasion when Lord Krishna, after slaying demon Narakasura, visited his beloved sister Subhadra. She welcomed him by performing aarti and applied tilak on his forehead. As per another story, the roots of this festival can be traced to Jainism. According to this tale, when Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, attained Nirvana, his brother King Nandivardhan missed him so much that he fell ill with melancholy. Seeing this, his loving sister Sudarshana came forward and comforted him. Since then, this day holds great reverence in Jainism and women are visited and presented gifts by their brothers on this day.
On this special occasion, sisters invite their brothers to their homes and prepare elaborate as well as delightful meals including their brother's favorite dishes. The ceremony begins with an aarti, after which she applies a tika in the middle of his forehead signifying her best wishes for him. Thereafter, the brother blesses his sister and presents her with gifts or cash. Women who do not have a brother worship the moon on the occasion of Bhau-beej in various regions of India, like Haryana and Maharashtra. Women decorate their palms with various designs of mehndi as it is considered highly auspicious.
Sisters, whose brothers cannot visit them, send their best wishes through the Moon God. However, today with the evolution of communication, sisters send their heartiest wishes to their brothers via phone or emails. This is believed to be the reason that children in India endearingly call the moon as 'Chandamama' ('chanda' stands for moon and 'mama' means mother's brother). Thus, Bahi Dooj is a much awaited festival by brothers as well as sisters and a great occasion for family get-togethers before the festive season of Diwali ends. Special delicacies, like basundi poori or kheerni poori, are relished by the entire family on this day in Maharashtra. The day gives a wonderful opportunity to siblings to relive their childhood memories and keep the relationship between them strong.