Bhai Dooj is a major festival celebrated by Hindus in different parts of India. Like Raksha Bandhan, this is a festival which celebrates the fraternal bond between brothers and their sisters. It is celebrated in the Hindu month of Kartika, on the second day of the bright phase of the moon. The exact date for this festival may vary depending on the region where it is being celebrated and the traditions being followed there. The rituals for this festival may also vary slightly from one region to another.
This festival is known by different names in different parts of the country. While the Marathis and the Konkanis refer to this festival as Bhai Bij or Bhav Bij, the Bengalis call this festival Bhai Phota. Interestingly, this festival is one of the most important festivals in Nepal where it is called Bhai Tika.
Legends Associated with Bhai Dooj
Bhai Dooj is associated with some interesting mythological tales. It is believed that after Lord Krishna had vanquished the demon Narkasur, he was warmly received by his sister Subhadra who placed a tika (a vermilion dot on his forehead) on his forehead and shared sweets with him. Another account concerns an event in the life of Yamraj who was the God of Death. He went to meet his sister Yamuna on Bhai Dooj. They spent a wonderful day together, eating together and talking to each other. Yamuna placed a tika on his forehead and both of them exchanged gifts. Thereafter, Yamraj declared that all sisters who celebrated this day would be sure to receive the support and protection of their brother.
Celebrations on Bhai Dooj
On this day, sisters pray for the well-being of their brother and ask them to stand by them through good and bad times. Sisters take part in the tika ceremony where they apply a vermilion dot on their brother’s forehead. Sometimes a sandalwood dot may alternatively be placed on the brother’s forehead as prayers are chanted for his good health. Sisters invoke blessings from their brother and ask them to protect them. They often perform an aarti for their brother. In return, the brother promises to be there for his sister.
Once the tika ritual is over, gifts are exchanged. Chocolates and money may be given by the brother to his sister. Then sweets are consumed. The celebrations often extend into a full meal that the family enjoys together. As people are busy at different times of the year, a festival such as Bhai Dooj is important to get brothers and sisters and their families together.