Bhai Dooj or Yama Dwitiya

Bhai Dooj also known as Bhau-Beej, Bhai Tika or Bhai Phonta is a festival celebrated by Hindus of the Indian subcontinent.

Updated: June 16, 2022

Bhai Dooj also known as Bhau-Beej, Bhai Tika or Bhai Phonta is a festival celebrated by Hindus of the Indian subcontinent. This festival is celebrated on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar or of Shalivahan Shaka calendar month of Kartika. It is celebrated during the Diwali or Tihar festival.

The celebrations of this day are similar to the festival of Raksha Bandhan. On this day sisters pray for their brothers to have long and happy lives by performing Tika ceremony and brothers offer gifts to their sisters. The day is celebrated as Yama Dwitiya in the southern part of the country. Basically in Haryana, a special ritual is also followed. In that a dry coconut named as gola in regional language with klewa tied along its width for worshiping is also used at the time of doing aarti of your brother. 

Bhai Dooj festival is a symbol of affection and warmth between brother and sister.

Regional Names of Bhai Dooj:

The festival is observed in different name in different states. These include:
Bhai Dooj in entire Northern part of India, observed during the Diwali festival. It is widely celebrated by Awadhis in Uttar Pradesh, Maithils in Bihar and people from various other ethnic groups.

  • The festival is known as Bhai Tika in Nepal, where it is the most important festival after Dashain (Vijaya Dashmi / Dussehra) that is observed on the fifth day of Tihar festival. It is widely celebrated by the Khas people.
  • The festival is known as Bhai Phonta in Bengal and it takes place every year on the second day after Kali Puja.
  • Bhai Bij, Bhau Beej, or Bhav Bij amongst the Gujarati, Marathi and Konkani-speaking communities in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
  • It is named as Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya, after a legendary meeting between Yama the god of Death and his sister Yamuna, the famous river on Dwitheya (the second day after new moon).
  • Other names include Bhatru Dviteeya or Bhatri Ditya.


Bhai Dooj Ceremony:

Sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal that include their favorite dishes and sweets on the day of the festival. The ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as blessings for her brother from sisters for his long life and prosperity. 

On this occasion sisters perform aarti for their brother and apply a red tika on the brother's forehead. This tika ceremony on the occasion of Bhai Bij signifies the sincerest prayers of sister for the long and happy life of her brother. There is also exchange of gifts between brothers and sisters as a token of love and appreciation that strengthen the bond. Bhav Bij is a time for family reunions as all brothers and sisters in the family get together. Close relatives and friends are also invited to celebrate the Bhav Bij in many families.

 
Women who do not have a brother worship the moon god in Haryana and Maharashtra. Also, the sister whose brother lives far away from her and can not go to her house, sends her sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother through the moon god. She performs aarti for the moon. This is the reason why children of Hindu parents affectionately call the moon as Chandamama.

Origins of Bhai Dooj:

Yamraj, the God of Death, visited his sister on this day. His sister, Yami who is also known as Yamuna, welcomed him with an aarti, and after applying tilak on his forehead, offered him sweets. In return, he presented her with a gift that signified his love and affection towards her. 

Pleased by the sister, Yama gave a boon that if, brother and sister have a bath in Yamuna river on this day then they will receive salvation. Hence, having a bath with brother or sister in Yamuna is of great significance on this day. Also, Yamuna asked her brother to take a pledge that every brother should go to her sister's house on this day. From that time only, tradition of Bhai Dooj is carried on. Brothers who stay far from their sister, they go on Bhai Dooj to meet her. They get the Tilak applied and give gifts to their sisters.


Therefore, this auspicious day of Bhai dooj is celebrated to prevent untimely death of brothers. Those who take bath in Yamuna river, get relief from untimely death and attains salvation. There is a tradition of worshipping the lord at the bank of Yamuna river. Yamraj, the lord of death, is worshipped on Yama Dwitiya along with Chitragupta and Yama-Doots, the subordinates of Lord Yamraj. The Aparahna is the most suitable time for Yama Dwitiya Puja. Yamuna Snan is suggested in the morning before Yamraj Puja during Aparahna. Arghya should be given to Lord Yama after Puja.

Another popular origin story for the festival is that Lord Krishna's sister Subhadra welcomed him with an aarti, tilak, sweets and flowers after he killed the demon king Narakasur.

After Rakhi, this is another festival of the year that depicts the love and bond of sisters and  brothers.


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