Bhai Dooj: Celebrating the bond between brother and sister

Once the Diwali festivities get over, comes the festival of Bhai-Dooj, a festival which celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. Just like Rakhi, this festival is all about pampering brothers with gala feast and beautiful gifts.

The auspicious occasion, which marks the end of the five day long Diwali festival, is celebrated majorly in West Bengal. Known as Bhai Phota, the day typically starts with sisters fasting for their brothers, breaking it only after applying a tika of sandalwood, kohl and curd to their brothers. After the short rituals, follows the gala feast. Sumptuous meals are organized in the honour of the brother and the entire family, including the extended one.

Bhai dooj is also celebrated in parts of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Goa. While in each region it is called with a different name and has varied rituals, the emotion behind the festival remains the same.

Like any other Hindu festival, Bhai Dooj originates from legends in mythology. There are many versions as to how the festival came into being. One story goes as Yamaraja – the god of death had a twin sister named Yami or the river Yamuna. Legend has it that every year after Diwali, during the Shukla Paksh of Kartika month, Yamaraja was called to his sister’s home Yamuna, where she offered aarti and a small gift for her brother. As Yamuna fed her brother to his heart’s content, the god of death declared that any brother, who visits his sister on Bhai Dhooj day will escape the hand of Yamaraja - the sister prays for her brother.

There is another story that how after slaying Narakasura demon, Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra, who welcomed him with an aarti and put a protective tilak on his forehead for his long life.

While Rakhi is all about protecting your sister, Bhai Dooj is about praying for your brother’s life.

Even though the festival has much thought and relevance behind it, for most Indian families, it is a day to rejoice and keep the Diwali festivities going on. It is a day when sisters get to pamper their brothers and brothers get to eat their favourite dishes at their hearts content.

Compiled by Shomini Sen

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