Bhai Dooj

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

Updated: June 17, 2020



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. This year it will be celebrated on 29th of October. 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.


Significance of Bhai Dooj:

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 worshiping 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. 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).

Bhai Dooj in entire Northern part of India, observed during the Diwali festival. Other names of this festival include Bhatru Dviteeya, or Bhatri Ditya. 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. 

According to a popular legend in Hindu mythology when Lord Krishna visited his sister Subhadra after slaying the evil demon Narakasura, she gave him a warm welcome with sweets and flowers. She also affectionately applied tilaka on Krishna's forehead. This incident is believed to be the origin of the festival.
This festival is a symbol of affection and warmth between brother and sister and also symbolises their emotional bond and the renews the vow of the brother to protect his sister. After Rakhi, this is another festival of the year that depicts the love and bond of sisters and  brothers.

Celebration of Bhai Dooj:

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.

Females apply mehendi on their hands as a part of tradition. 

Regional names:

The festival is known by different names in different regions. These are as follows:

In entire Northern part of India, Bhai Dooj is observed during the Diwali festival. This is also the second day of the New Year as per Vikrami Samvat calendar followed in Northern India including Kashmir. The calendar starts from the lunar month of Kartika. 

It is widely celebrated by Awadhis in Uttar Pradesh, Maithils in Bihar as Bhardutiya and people from various other ethnic groups. The first day of this New Year is observed as Govardhan Puja.

In Nepal, the festival is celebrated as Bhai Tika where it is the most important festival after Dashain or Vijaya Dashmi or Dussehra. It is widely celebrated by the Khas people which is observed on the fifth day of Tihar festival.

Sisters pray to Yamraj for a long life and prosperity for their brothers on this day. The ritual involves marking the forehead of brothers with a seven colored long tika by sisters. The rest of the ritual is similar to that performed by Hindus elsewhere.

In Bengal, the festival is celebrated as Bhai Phonta and it occurs every year on the second day after Kali Puja.

In the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka, the festival is celebrated as Bhai Bij, Bhau Beej, or Bhav Bij amongst the Gujarati, Marathi and Konkani-speaking communities. Bhai Bij gifts are given to brothers from sisters as a token of love and appreciation. As all brothers and sisters in the family get together, Bhav Bij is a time for family reunions. Special dishes for the festival are prepared that also include the Maharashtra sweet called basundi poori or kheerni poori. There is also exchange of gifts between brother and sister.

In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the festival is celebrated as Bhatru Dviteeya, or Bhatri Ditya or Bhaghini Hastha Bhojanamu.

Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya is another name for the festival. It is named 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).

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