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Bhai Dooj marks the end of the Diwali festival celebrations. This article takes a look at the legends and rituals of Bhai Dooj.

Bhai Dooj

The festival of lights, Diwali ends with the celebration of Bhai Dooj, an occasion marking the precious and special relationship of a brother and his sister. On the festive occasion of Bhai Dooj, sisters meet brothers, and vice verse, and exchange gifts and sweets to express their eternal bond. Bhai Dooj is also known as Bhai Bij, Bhaubeej Bhav Bij and Bhai-phota in different parts of India. To honor the occasion, a ritual is followed wherein the sister applies a ‘tikka’ (vermillion mark) on her brother’s forehead. Bhai Dooj is considered a very auspicious occasion for the Hindus; and even married women make sure that they visit their brothers and perform the rituals. In return, the brothers promise to look after and protect their sisters in times of both adversity and good times. Through this article, let’s have a look at the legends and celebrations of Bhai Dooj.

Bhai Dooj Legends

Like any other festival which has its association with incidents in the Hindu mythology, Bhai Dooj, too, has a few legends associated with its celebrations. The first legend is that of Lord Yama, the God of Death and his sister Yami. On this day, Lord Yama visited his sister Yami, wherein she applied tilak on her brother’s forehead for his safety and prosperity. She prepared delicious food and sweets for her brother and Lord Yama, touched by all these, conferred blessings and presents to her. Lord Yama also declared that brothers, who receive tilak from their sisters on the Bhai Dooj day, will never find a place in hell. Since then, Bhai Dooj is also referred to as “Yama Dwitiya” as it was Shukla Paksha Dwitiya on that day.

Another legend associated with Bhai Dooj in Lord Mahavira’s attainment of Nirvana. When Lord Mahavira attained nirvana, his brother King Nandivardan was depressed as he missed him deeply. It was his intelligent sister Sudarshana who comforted him by simplifying the meaning of attaining nirvana. Since then, the Jains consider this custom to revere their sisters on the occasion of Bhai Dooj. Lord Krishna is also associated with Bhai Dooj. After slaying the demon Narakasura, when Lord Krishna returned, he was welcomed by his sister Subhadra by applying tilak on his forehead and offering flowers and sweets. In remembrance of this legend, people still celebrate Bhai Dooj to share the love and affection between brothers and sisters.

Bhai Dooj Celebrations
There are several traditions and rituals associated with celebration of Bhai Dooj. On this auspicious occasion, brothers and sisters wake up early and put on new clothes. The sisters prepare the thalis, tilaks and aarti for their brothers in the general puja room. The sisters apply tilak on the forehead of their brothers thereby strengthening the bond that they share. The sister then offers sweets to her brother. The brother, in return, showers her with blessings and gifts. Celebration of Bhai Dooj is also a time of family union, and sharing lovely moments by having meals together. By celebrating the auspicious occasion of Yama Dwitiya on this same day, the Kayastha community worships Lord Chitragupta, who is the keeper of records of life and death of all living beings.

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