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Bhai Dooj is a Hindu festival celebrating the strong ties of relationship shared by a brother and sister. The essence of this festival lies is the conveyance of feelings from a sister to her brother. She abides by this festival exclusively for the purpose of praying to Lord for conferring her brother with a long, healthy, and happy life. This festival is of extreme importance in the lives of Hindus, and that gets apparently reflected in the way with which they observe it. It is one of the two festivals, with the other one being Raksha Bandhan, which are dedicated to the brother-sister relationship.
Besides India, it is also celebrated in Nepal. In different parts of the country, it is referred with different names. For instance, it is known as Bhau Beej in Maharashtra, Goa, and Karnataka, Bhai Phota in Bengal, and Bhai Tika in Nepal. It has few other names such as Bhathru Dwithiya and Bhatri Ditya.
Time of Celebration
The festival of Bhai Dooj falls on the last day of the five-day long Deepawali celebrations. According to Hindu calendar, it falls on the second day of the bright fortnight of the month of Kartika. According to Georgian calendar, it usually falls either in the month of October or November.
According to legends associated with this festival, the day is celebrated in commemoration of the visit of Lord Krishna to her sister’s house on this day, after Lord killed Narkasur, the evil demon. On his visit, Subhadra, Lord’s sister, gave him a warm welcome. She applied Tika (a sacred mark) on his forehead, and treated him with sweets and flowers.
Rituals and Celebrations
1. On the day of Bhai Dooj, a sister makes an invitation to her brother asking him to visit his house, in case she lives somewhere else or is married. She prepares favorite dishes of her brother and feeds him with love and affection. On his part, a brother promises to fulfill all his rightful duties towards his sister with utmost determination. Also, he gains an understanding of his role to protect his sister from all sorts of dangers and problems, all through her life.
2. Ritually, on arrival of her brother, a sister performs an Aarti by an oil lamp. Offerin Aarti is believed to ward off all evils away from brother. After Aarti, a sister applies red Tika (a red-colored sacred mark) on her brother’s forehead. Applying of Tika signifies for sister’s prayers for brother’s long, happy, healthy, and prosperous life. She then feeds her brother with sweets. In the end, brother confers his blessings over his sister and presents her with alluring gifts which are considered to be expression of love of a brother for his sister.
This is how Bhai Dooj is fundamentally observed by almost everyone in the Hindu community. However, while moving from one part of the country to another, there can be slight alterations in the way the rituals are performed.
1. In Maharashtra, all those women who don’t have a brother, consider Lord Moon as their brother and perform all rituals over him. Also, women who have their brothers living far away from them convey their love, care, and affection for their brothers by performing rituals over Lord Moon.
2. In Bengal, sisters observe fast in the morning till the time they go past performing rituals. Also, gifting new grass and rice are an integral part of their festive rituals.
3. In Uttar Pradesh, there is a ritual of gifting ‘Aab’, flax intertwined in a circular shape with sugar batashas used for dotting it.4. In Bihar, there is an interesting tradition performed on this day. The rituals initiate with sister cursing her brother, and then pleading brother for forgiveness over it. A brother’s forgiveness is not only meant to pardon those immediate epithets, but all the mistakes made by sister anytime in the past.
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