The festival which predates Raksha Bandhan and is more widely celebrated in Northern India is Bhai Dooj. It brings together brothers and sisters who are separated by distances and social obligations. The ’tilak’ which the sister applies on her brother’s forehead is considered very auspicious and is the main significance of the festival apart from bhai phota gifts and sweets.
The festival is celebrated in the month of October – November, two days after Diwali. Though the date is not fixed it falls on the new moon night and is accurately calculated by pandits. This festival augments the brother sister bond and is highly revered by Hindus.
The mythology of Diwali
There are several stories supporting the festival. It is believed that Yamraj the god of death visited his sister Yamuna on this day. Yamuna applied the vermilion tilak on his forehead and put a garland around him, wishing him well. They exchanged gifts and sweets. Yamraj was so pleased that he announced that anyone who gets a vermilion tilak on this auspicious day will never be led through hell’s doors. Therefore Bhai Dooj is also known as Yama Dwitiya.
Another legend emphasises that after vanquishing the demon Narakasura Lord Krishna went to his sister Subhadra’s house. She welcomed him with aarti (lit diya), flowers and sweets. She then applied the tilak on his forehead. Since then it is believed that on the day of Bhai Dooj the brother goes to the sister’s house and the ‘vermilion tilak’ is a symbol of love and prayers from a sister to her brother.
Diwali pujan rituals
The festival is celebrated with much gusto by all people who observe Diwali. Puja is performed at the same place where deities were bedecked for Diwali. Sisters apply tilak on the brother’s forehead, perform the aarti and offer sweets. The aarti is accompanied by a beautifully decorated thali which contains roli and rice in specific Katoris. Thalis are festooned with colored grains, pepper, buds, petals, leaves, beads and sequins. Bhai Dooj sweets are also an important part of the thali.
Common connotations of Bhai Dooj
The festival is known as Bhai Phota, Bhatri Ditya, Bhai Tika, Bhathru Dwithiya and Yama Dwithiya. The celebrations mark a family get together and are occasions of jubilation. In some parts of the country there are special cultural events organised to mark the celebration.
Mithai are also unique to the festival and sweets and other gifts are exchanged as a part of the revelry. Sending sweets for Bhai Dooj to India is now made easy with numerous online marts that efficiently cater to the needs of customers. Siblings separated by distances may send gifts to India using online shopping marts.
The custom of sending a suitable bhaubij gift for brother or sister is a common cultural aspect of this festivity. And as there are no monetary limits associated with gift giving, siblings can go above and beyond to express their love. The most widely gifted presents range from sweets, dry fruits, attire to precious jewelleries. However, if someone fancies in gifting something non traditional such as chocolates, cakes, flowers, or even personalised gifts.
There are several facets to the world renowned festival of Diwali. It is celebrated for five days in most of northern India and Bhai Dooj is observed on the last day. The Puja procedure, artistically decorated thali, vibrant colours, the significance of the ’tilak’ and most importantly the special bond of love between brother and sister make this an incredibly significant festival.
Bhai Dooj is celebrated every year on the second day of Shukla Paksha of the month of Kartik and usually falls two days after Diwali, the festival of lights and a day after Govardhan Puja. The festival celebrates the loving and sacred bond between a brother and a sister.