6th November 2021
The unique bond and understanding between a brother and a sister surpasses many other relationships known to mankind – they are best friends, protectors of each other, admirers of each other, and share unconditional love for each other.
It is difficult to decode their feelings, emotions and love between them. However, there are special days or occasions that are dedicated to strengthening the love between a brother and a sister – Bhaiya Dooj is one such occasion.
This sacred festival is an important occasion where sisters pray to God for the longevity, well-being and prosperity of their beloved brother(s). The occasion occurs two days after Diwali marking the end of the 5 day festival.
ORIGIN, MEANING & SIGNIFICANCE OF BHAI DOOJr
Similar to the festival Raksha Bandhan, it is aso known as Bhaiya Dooj, Bhau-Bee or Bhai Phonta, this festival is also celebrated as “Yama Dwitiya,” in the southern parts of India.
There are a few Hindu mythological-based stories related to the origin of this auspicious day. According to the one legend, Lord Krishna visited His sister, Subhadra after killing the demon Narkasur. His sister gave Him a warm welcome and made the occasion really special by offering flowers, prayers and sweets. Subhadra also applied the ceremonial “tilak,” on the forehead of her brother, praying for the raksha (protection) of her brother and the “Bhai Dooj,” festival was born, as Krishna was so moved by Subagra’s love for Him that He declared it as a sacred festival for all brothers and sisters.
Another legend revolves around the story of Yama, the God of Death and His sister Yamuna. It is believed that He met His beloved sister on Dwitheya, the second day after the new moon and thus the occasion began to be celebrated as “Yamadvitiya,” across the country from that day.
Yamraj was also so moved by His sister’s love for Him when she offered prayers, flowers, tilak and food to Him, that Yamraj declared that He would not on that day, claim the brothers who had been prayed onto by their sisters.
BHAI DHOOJ RITUAL
It is an auspicious occasion that celebrates the strong bonding between siblings which continues long after the sisters get married and has a family of their own.
Sisters invite their brothers to visit their home and prepare their brothers’ favourite food.
The sisters pray to God for the well-being and longevity of their brothers’ lives and ask for protection against all the evils and bad fortune. In return, brothers make a solemn vow to protect their sisters from any harm and to give them support whenever the need arises.
The sacred ritual usually starts at 7.00pm onwards where the brother is made to sit on a cushion on the floor.
A ritual plate consisting of ‘durva,’ (Lord Ganesha’s favourite grass), ‘dhan,’ (unhusked rice), ghee lamp, sandalwood paste for tilak, sweetmeats, a glass of water, flowers and ‘kajal,’ is laid in front of the brother.
If the sister is older to the brother, she offers light and places durva, flowers and dhan on the head of the brother as a blessing from the elder in the family. She then smears kajal on the eyebrows of her brother to indicate to Yamraj that she has offered prayers to her brother. She then places sandalwood tilak on his forehead and chants a protection mantra and concludes the ritual by offering sweetmeats and water to drink. The brother touches the feet of his sister as a gesture of obeisance to his elder and offers her gifts like money, jewellery or clothes etc.
If the sister is younger, she places the dhan, flowers and durva at the feet of her brother and touches his feet instead while he blesses her by touching her head and gifting her money, clothes and whatever else is her favourite. The younger sister also places tilak with protection mantra as well as smears kajal on her brother’s eyebrows.
The sisters then, offer a good spread of dinner to their brothers.
Bhai Dooj Mantra
I am your sister, eat this sacred offerings and let me place a tilak on your forehead for the pleasure of Yamraj and His sister, Yamuna.
May you be safe from harm and may the bond between us remain eternal with the blessings of the Gods.
May the celebration of Bhai Dooj renew old bonds and invoke the everlasting relations between siblings, wherever you may be.
SUJATA NANDY WORLD GURUKUL
Image credit: Drik Panchang