Bhai Dooj – Praying for Brothers
The name Bhai Dooj is a combination of two words – “Bhai” means “brother” and “Dooj” means “second day after new moon”. Hence the festival is celebrated on the second new moon day after Diwali, in the month of Kartik, (October-November), according to the Hindu calendar. Bhai Dooj is celebrated all over India with different names like Bhau Beej, Bhai Tika, Bhai Phota etc. But the essence of it remains the same; it is the festival when the bond between brothers and sisters is strengthened and glorified.
Once upon a time there was a village. A family lived there which had two children – a younger brother and an elder sister – who loved each other very much. Being elder, the sister got married first and went away to her husband’s home. After some time, however, the brother started missing his sister. When everyone else used to play and celebrate festivals with their sisters, he used to feel left out. One day, he asked his mother why his sister never came to meet them. She replied that the path between their own village and the village where his sister had been married was full of perils and dangers. Therefore, nobody used to travel through that passage. But, due to his longing, one day he decided to travel to the other village to meet his sister. On his way, he encountered the perils in the form of snake, tiger and mountain, blocking his way and threatening to kill him. He prayed to them and requested them to let him go. He told them that on his way back to his home, he would let them kill him. The perils accepted his request and allowed him to go. Consequently, he reached the other village and met his sister. His sister received him and treated him with love and affection. Both were very happy to see each other after a long time. Later, the brother told his sister about the incident while he was travelling and said to her that he would die soon. This made her really worried and sad. She thought of a plan to protect her brother and decided to go along with him on his journey back to home. Before leaving, though, she packed some items and carried them with her.
On their way, she met the aforementioned perils one by one. When they encountered the snake, she offered some milk and the snake went away. Later, when they faced the tiger, she gave meat to it and the tiger went away as well. Afterwards, she offered flowers and beautiful metallic objects to the mountain and it allowed them to pass. After crossing through all the dangers, they became very tired and felt thirsty. So, the sister went to fetch some water from the nearby river while the brother sat down under a tree to relax. On the riverbank, she met some gypsies who told her that her brother was still in danger and in order to protect him she should get him married at the earliest. She should also ask the priest to perform all the rituals and customs of the marriage first on her and then on her brother. Moreover, until he gets married she should continuously abuse and curse him. Initially, she was a bit taken aback by this course of remedy but, later, agreed as she was willing to do anything to protect her brother.
As they reached their home she started cursing and abusing her brother. All the people were shocked to see her behavior but she did not stop and continued to do it. Then she demanded that her brother gets married as soon as possible. Later, she insisted that all the rituals and ceremonies should be performed on her first. She became very angry and everybody agreed to her demands. Then she said that the Sehra, It is a headdress worn by the groom on his wedding day. It is made of flowers or beads of ribbons which hang from his head, covering his face. The ritual of putting sehra on the head of eth groom is performed by the ladies of the family, especially sister-in-law. It is a common practice in Indian marriages. a decorated turban worn by the groom, should be worn by her first. As she was about to try it, she found a snake in one of the strings attached to it and made it run away, thus, saving her brother’s life. Later while her brother and his bride were taking Phere, Phere, also known as saathphere, means seven circumambulations. It is one of the most important ritual in Hindu wedding in which the bride and the groom take seven rounds around a pious fire that is lit especially for the ceremony to take place. Each round taken represents one of the promises made by the couple to each other like man promising to get food in the house, wife promising to take care of his family like her own etc. a ceremony where the groom and his bride take seven rounds around a fire, the sister fell asleep. At the same time her brother fell unconscious. Due to all the commotion and noises she suddenly woke up from her sleep and remembered that she had to curse her brother without stopping. She suddenly started cursing and abusing her brother. There were many evil spirits near her brother but they got frightened listening to so many curses and left the place. After a while, the brother gained consciousness again and completed the ceremony and finally got married. Later, his sister explained to everybody as to why she was behaving so strangely. The brother then realized how caring and affectionate sister she was and prayed that may every brother get a sister like her. The whole incident is believed to have taken place on Dooj and, hence, Bhai Dooj began to be celebrated.
There are some Vedic references to Bhai Dooj as well. It is believed that on this day, YamaYama
Also known as Yamaraja, Yama is the controller of the hell (Naraka)... went to his sister YamiYami
Also known as Kaalindi, Yami is the daughter of Sun God, Surya and his consort... and she put an auspicious mark generally of red color, known as tilak, on his forehead and prayed for his well-being. Another legend states that on Bhai Dooj, KrishnaKrishna
It is described that there are three aspects of the Supreme that must... went to his sister Subhadra after killing Narakasura, He was the son of earth Goddess, Bhudevi who became a demon in association with another demon named Banasura and she welcomed him with sweets, flowers and lamps and put a tilak on his forehead for his protection.
The rituals of Bhai Dooj are very simple and joyful. Sisters prepare favorite food items of their brothers and offer them the dishes, sweets, lamps etc. The most important ritual is the tilak ceremony in which the sister puts a tilak, made of sandalwood, vermilion or alike substances, on the forehead of her brother and prays to the deities for his safety and protection. In turn, brothers provide gifts to their sisters. Sisters, whose brothers live far away or are not able to come to meet them, can pray to the moon god and perform the rituals vicariously for their brothers. It is believed that the prayers and blessings are sent to the brothers, living far away, via moon.
It is believed that on Bhai Dooj, sisters pray for their brothers’ long life, safety and well-being. Brothers are supposed to offer gifts to their sisters as a token of love and affection. It is also considered that brothers, who receive a tilak from their sisters on this day, would never be thrown into hell.