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Bhai Dooj – A Brother-Sister Festival of India

If you want to see the real beauty and depth of the ancient Indian culture then look no further than the beautiful concept behind Bhai Dooj. It is one festival that will amaze you with its simple yet profound meaning. In no other tradition of the world, the loving nature of the brother-sister relationship has been expressed with such magnificence as seen in Bhai Dooj.

In India, there are two festivals that glorify the brother-sister bond. One of them is Raksha Bandhan, and the other one is Bhai Dooj. In the former, the sister ties a rakhi which is a kind of bracelet or wrist-band, on the wrist of her brother. Sister prays for the well-being and success of her brother. In return, the brother offers her gifts along with a promise of providing her protection. Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the 2nd day after Diwali and the message behind this festival is the same as Rakshabandhan.

Significance of Bhai Dooj

Bhai Dooj is the fifth and the final day of the traditional Diwali celebrations. After the four-day long high-pitched drama accompanied by the dazzle of lighting and resounding noises of the fire-crackers, the fifth day mellows things up with the emotion of the pure and strong love between a brother and a sister. It portrays an emotional bonding between two souls that have been incarnated in this lifetime as brother and sister to experience the beauty and purity of this divine relationship.

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Mythological Significance of Bhai Dooj

You will not find a single festival in an Indian culture that is without any religious significance. According to the Hindu traditions, Bhai Dooj is also known as Yama Dweetiya. Yama is the Lord of Death. It is believed that Yama has the power to put a man in heaven or in hell according to his good or bad karmas, after his death. The legend goes that, on this day, Yama went to his sister Yami who worshiped him by putting an auspicious mark or ‘tilak’ on his forehead and praying earnestly for his well-being. According to another legend, a sister sacrificed all her life shielding her brother from death. And, so it is believed that a brother who gets a tilak marked on his forehead from his sister on this day will never be put to hell and will rise to heaven.

Bhai Dooj Celebrations

Every festival in the rich Indian culture has its special way of expression. There are certain rituals and norms to be followed to adhere to religious sanctity. The following are a few ways in which Bhai Dooj is traditionally celebrated in India.

  • On the day of Bhai Dooj, the brother visits his sister’s house to celebrate this auspicious occasion.
  • Sister keeps the house clean and well-decorated so that her brother will be happy when he visits her.
  • She puts an auspicious tilak at the center of her brother’s forehead and performs an aarti. The aarti consists of a holy flame which is the symbolic representation of love and light and protection from evil.
  • In return, the brother offers his sister gifts and blessings.
    The love between a brother and a sister is a pure and selfless form of love between a man and a woman. It is only second to the highest expression of human love signified by the love between a mother and her child. The beautiful depiction of this loving relationship between a brother and sister is clearly manifested in the festival of Bhai Dooj.

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