Festivals are auspicious occasions or important days of celebration in different religions or societies. They give us peace and relaxation from the daily chores.
There are different festivals celebrated all over the world. Festivals bring harmony among everyone in spite of the differences.
Every festival has its own history and story behind its celebration. They help us to know about our roots and culture. Festivals bring family and friends together.
People who stay away from their families unite during the festivals. Festivals are celebrated from some happy moments which took place centuries back, to depict victory, to show the bond between different relations.
One such festival which is celebrated for the love and respect between two relations is Bhai Dooj.
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What is Bhai Dooj?
Bhai Dooj is a festival in which sisters pray to God for the long and prosperous life of the brothers. This festival is celebrated on the last day of Diwali and on the second day of the new moon.
This falls in the month of Kartika, that is between the month of October and November.
In this festival, there is a Puja and the sisters put a Tika on the forehead of their brothers. After this they eat, give gifts and take blessings from the elders of the family. This festival is similar to Raksha Bandhan.
History of Bhai Dooj
There are many different stories about the history of this festival. It is believed that once there was a family in a village. The family had two children- one son and one daughter.
The daughter was the elder one and so she got married before him and left home.
The brother was still at home. He missed his sister because the family had to celebrate many festivals without her where she was supposed to be.
The son asked his mother about his sister. He wanted to know why she did not come to meet them. The mother said that she lived in another village.
There was a dangerous forest between the two villages. But the brother had made a firm decision to meet his sister.
When he reached that forest, he prayed to the mountains, tiger and snakes to allow him to go and meet his sister. They could eat him when he returned. They allowed him to go.
The sister was delighted to see him. She took care of him. The brother told her that his life was in danger and he was going to die soon.
The sister packed the bag and went with him to the forest. She saves him by offering milk to the snake, meat to the tiger and flowers to the mountain.
But still his life was not out of danger. She met a few gypsies when she went to bring water.
They informed her that her brother could be saved if she abused him, get him married and all the rituals would be performed on her first and then on him.
Everyone was shocked when she became an evil woman. Her brother was going to get married. She demanded that the sehra would be tied on her first.
She found that there was a snake in the sehra and she saved her brother. When the pheras was going on, the brother fainted because of the evil spirits.
But even the sister was sleeping. She woke up from the noise and cursed the place. The evil spirits fled away seeing her.
When the villagers came to know about the entire story and the change in behavior, they realized that the sister was trying to save her brother.
His brother was lucky that he had such a caring sister and prayed that every brother should get a sister like her. Thus, the festival of Bhai Dooj is celebrated.
There are many examples about Bhai Dooj. The stories date back to centuries. First is the story about Yamaraj and Yamuna.
Yamaraj is known as the God of Death. Once he visited his twin sister, Yamuna. When he came to see her, Yamuna performed the aarti and gave him gift.
But Yamaraj did not have any gift to give her. So, he gave her a boon. According to that boon, anyone who celebrated the festival of Bhai Dooj with Yamuna and took a bath in the holy river would not be sent to hell.
The second story is about Lord Krishna. Lord Krishna killed the demon, Narakasura and went to meet his sister, Subhadra.
She welcomed him with beautiful flowers and performed the aarti. After the aarti she put tika on his forehead.
It is believed that the story of Lord Krishna and his sister led to the festival where the sister prayed for the long and prosperous life of her brother.
The third story is of Lord Mahavira. When Lord Mahavira acquired Nirvana, his brother King Nandivardhan started to miss him. He was in pain without his brother.
At that time his sister Sudarshana comforted him. Later on because of this story, the festival was celebrated where the brothers gave those gifts with love and valued them.
The fourth story is about Lord Vishnu. Lord Vishnu had to be present at every Patalaloka’s door according to a boon of Mahabali.
Lord Vishnu was ready to become a Dwarpalaka. Goddess Lakshmi came to know about this incident from Narada Muni. She was sad and decided to help him with the help of a plan.
She changed her appearance as a poor woman and went to search Mahabali. When she met him, she told him that she liked to have a brother as she did not have one.
He agreed to become her brother and requested her to make a wish. Her wish was to release her husband, Lord Vishnu from the boon.
Her wish was granted and Lord Vishnu was free from the service of Dwarpalaka. This reflects that the festival strengthens the relationship of a brother and sister.
How is Bhai Dooj celebrated?
This festival is celebrated in different parts of the country. They are called by different names but have the same purpose to celebrate this festival. Even though they have different names but the ceremony is similar.
In West Bengal, it is known as Bhai Phonta. There are many rituals that are performed and a grand feast is organized for the brothers.
It is compulsory that the brother and sister are more than 5 years. In Haryana, Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra and Karnataka this festival is known as Bhai Bij or Bhau Beej or Bhav Bij.
The siblings are very eager about this festival. They celebrate it with fun and cheerfulness. The siblings exchange the gifts showing their love and affection for each other.
In Haryana and Maharashtra, the sisters pray to the moon if they do not have a brother or if the brother is far away.
In Nepal, the festival is called Bhaitika. In Nepal, the sisters pray to Yamraj for the long life of their brother.
They put a tika on the forehead of their brothers. This tika is of seven different colours.
Significance of Bhai Dooj
The festival is celebrated with fun and cheerfulness. This festival brings the brothers and sisters together. The festival reminds the siblings about their duties for each other.
The festival not only unites the brother and sister but even the entire family. The festival is medium to show the bond between a brother and a sister. This important day brings happiness, care and love between them.
Bhai Dooj is similar to Raksha Bandhan. But in Raksha Bandhan the brothers promise to protect their sisters. While in Bhai Dooj, the sisters pray to God that their brothers have a long and prosperous life.