Diwali, the festival of lights, is a long celebration. The sixth or the last day of Diwali is Bhaiya Dooj, popularly known as Bhai Dooj. Bhai Dooj falls on the second day after the new moon. And it is a day to pray for the long life of one’s brother, who is referred to as “bhayya or bhai”.
This festival marks the love between sisters and brothers, and is celebrated to strengthen the bond of care and affection between the two. Through the means of this festival, sisters commemorate their brothers with an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on their foreheads. In return, brothers give gifts to their sisters.
Name of the Festival
Each region has its own name for this festival.
- Bhayya Duj (Hindi)
- Bhagini Hasta Bhojana (Sanskrit)
- Yama Dwitiya
- Sodara Bidige (Karnataka)
- Bhai Phota (Bengal)
- Bhai-Tika (Nepal)
- Bhav-Bij (Maharashtra)
On the day of the festival, sisters invite their brothers for a sumptuous meal often including their favorite dishes/sweets. The procedure may be different in bihar and central india. The whole ceremony signifies the duty of a brother to protect his sister, as well as a sister’s blessings for her brother.
Carrying forward the ceremony in traditional style, 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 sister’s sincerest prayers for the long and happy life of her brother and treat them with gifts. In return brothers bless their sisters and may treat them also with gifts or cash.
As it is customary in Haryana, Maharashtra to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Bhau-beej, women who do not have a brother worship the moon god instead. They apply mehendi on girls as their tradition.
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 Chandamama (Chanda means moon and mama means mother’s brother).
Bhai Phonta in West Bengal is celebrated with much splendor. The ceremony is marked with many rituals along with a grand feast arranged for the brothers.
The festival of Bhai Bij is popular in Haryana, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa and is celebrated with great fervour and gaiety. Brothers and sisters look forward to the occasion with immense enthusiasm. To add charm to the occasion, Bhai Bij gifts are exchanged between brothers and sisters as a token of love and appreciation.
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.
Special dishes for the festival include the Maharashtra sweet called basundi poori or kheerni poori.On this occasion sisters give gifts to their brothers.
Story of Yama and Yami
Once upon a time, long long ago, Surya, the sun God, was married to a beautiful princess called Samjna (also pronounced as Sangya). In the course of a year, she presented him with twins. The twins were christened Yama, and Varni or Yamuna, and they grew up together. However, Samjna, after some time, was unable to bear the brilliance of her husband, and so decided to go back to earth. However, she left her shadow, Chaya, her exact replica, behind, so that to Surya, it would appear that she was still there.
Chaya turned out to be a cruel stepmother and was very unkind to the twins. She soon gave birth to her own children, and then convinced Surya to drive out Samjna’s twins, Yama and Varni from the heavens. Varni fell to earth and became the river Yamuna, and Yama went to the underworld (hell) and became the Lord of Death.
Many years passed since this incident. Varni married a handsome prince and was content and happy in her life. But she missed her brother and yearned to see him. Yama, too, missed his sister and decided one day to visit her. Overjoyed by news of her brother’s visit, Varni prepared a great feast in his honor. It was two days into Deepavali, so her home was already decorated with lamps. She lovingly prepared a feast, including all the sweets and delicacies that her brother loved. Her husband, the handsome prince, was very happy seeing Varni so dedicatedly preparing a welcome for her brother.
Yama, too, was delighted by his sister’s loving welcome, and the brother and sister spent a pleasant evening in each other’s company, after their long period of separation. When it was time for Yama to leave, he turned to his sister and said, “Dear Varni, you have welcomed me so lovingly. But I did not bring you a gift. Ask, therefore, for something and it will be yours.”
“Your visit is gift enough,” replied Varni lovingly. “I have no need for anything else.”
But Yama was persistent. “You must let me give you a gift,” he insisted.
“Okay,” agreed Varni, taking a moment to think. “I ask that all brothers should remember their sisters on this day and visit them if they can, and that, on this day, all sisters should pray for the happiness of their brothers.”
“So be it!” proclaimed Yama, “And I grant all brothers who give their sisters a loving gift on this day a long and healthy life!”
Bhai Beej – 6th Day of Diwali – History and Story – Diwali Stories