The origin of Bhai Dooj Story
We first heard about the Bhai Dooj story in the Hindu Puranas while reading about Lord Krishna, the eighth incarnation of Lord Vishnu.
According to popular belief, the Bhai Dooj festival commemorates the visit of Lord Krishna at his sister Subhadra’ s house, after killing the demon Narkasura.
Subhadra welcomed her brother by applying a tilak on his forehead. She also performed “aarti” for him.
However, some people attribute Bhai Dooj to folklore about Yama Dharma, the God of Death and his sister Yami or Yamuna. According to this source, Bhai Dooj is celebrated to honor the visit of Yama at his sister Yamuna’s house.
Yamuna greeted him traditionally by putting a tilak on his forehead. Later, she arranged a feast serving his favorite food and made his stay comfortable.
Yamuna’s hospitality made her brother happy. While leaving, he asked her to name anything in the world which he could gift her in appreciation of her dedication.
However, she demanded nothing special. Instead, she conveyed her wish that all brothers should visit their sisters once every year which would strengthen bonds between them and make everyone happy. The God of Death said, “so it be”.
Therefore, Bhai Dooj is also known as Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya. This day, both brothers and sisters pray to Yama and Yamuna. People say that brothers who accept the hospitality of their sisters on this day need not fear death.
Bhai Dooj meaning
Traditionally, Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dooj suit brothers of married women only. This day gave brothers the chance to inquire about the welfare of their married sister. So that they can help them in case of any need.
In other words, Bhai Dooj symbolizes the idea of a brother-sister relationship which was prevalent among Indian families from olden days. Hindus and other ethnic groups, especially in the northern states of India and Nepal celebrate this festival.
According to Indian tradition, Bhai or brother is responsible for protecting his behen or sister from all dangers to her life. And, the behen reciprocates her bhai’s care and shield with her prayers for his happiness and long, healthy life.
Traditionally, this concept is deep-rooted in India’s kin relationship, based on the bond of protection, obligation, or care. And, it is kept alive and strengthened through annual rites and festivals like Bhai Dooj.
Raksha Bandhan in the same mold
The more widely celebrated Raksha Bandhan or Rakhi festival found its roots on the very idea of the brother-sister relationship. On the Raksha Bandhan, which falls in August every year, sisters seek to ensure their protection by tying Rakhi around the wrists of their brothers. The brothers established their obligation by giving gifts in return. Today, Rakhi has become common even among non-blood relations, making the ritual symbolic of protecting women from all potential dangers in their lives.
How Bhai Dooj is celebrated?
As you know, the emotional value of the brother-sister relationship is traditionally high in India. In effect, the Bhai Dooj festival is celebrated to reinforce this relationship.
The festival falls on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha (bright fortnight) of the Kartika month of the Vikram Samvat Hindu calendar. This day is known as “Dooj”, according to Hindu texts. Normally, it corresponds with the last day of the Diwali celebrations in the month of October-November every year.
The day of Bhai Dooj festival is very eventful, filled with tremendous enthusiasm, prayers, gifts, and food-sharing, marked by the love and affection between sisters and brothers.
Sisters, particularly the married sisters in most of the Hindu families in North India greet their brothers with an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on their foreheads on the day. They also perform aarti for their brothers. Brothers, on their part, match their affection and dedication by giving them gifts in return. Sisters offer prayers to Yama and Yami for the long life of brothers.
Bhai Dooj story celebrated in different names
People in various states and regions in India celebrate Bhai Dooj story in different names. People in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar celebrate the festival as Bhardutiya.
It is Bhai Tika in Nepal, Bhai Phonta in West Bengal, and Bhai Bij, Bhau Beej, or Bhav Bij in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa and Karnataka.
In Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, it is Bhatru Dviteeya, or Bhatri Ditya or Bhaghini Hastha Bhojanamu