Bhai Dooj Celebrations in India and Nepal

Bhai Dooj is one of the most important festivals in India, which strength the bond between brothers and sisters. Being a major festival of India, it is called by many names in different parts of the nation. Some of them are Bhai Phota, Bhai Tika, Bhav Bij, Bhatri Dwitiya, Yama Dwitiya, etc.

Bhai Dooj is a festival that concludes the last day of the five-day-long Diwali festivities. Bhai Dooj falls on the second day after the new moon, giving its name as ‘Dooj’ meaning the second day after the new moon and ‘Bhai’ means brother. The traditions, customs and rituals differ because of the cultural diversity in different parts of India, but the real meaning of the festivities remains unaffected. On this day, every sister prays for the long and happy life of her brother, and the brother promises to always protect and take care of her. As per the legends, ‘Yama Dwiteeya’ (another name of Bhai Dooj), as it’s believed that on this day, Yamaraj, the Lord of Death as well as the Custodian of Hell, visits his sister Yami, who puts an auspicious mark on His forehead and prays for his well being. So, it’s held that anyone who gets a tilak from his sister on this day would never be thrown into hell. Quite similar to the festival of Raksha Bandhan, this festival observes to make stronger the bond of love and care between brothers and sisters. To know more, read on to this page!

Bhai Dooj in Uttar Pradesh

In the state of Uttar Pradesh, at the start, sisters give a piece of cloth, knotted into a circular shape, which is full of batashas (sugar balls) to their brothers. This piece of cloth is called ‘aabf’. After performing all rituals, sisters apply a tika of roli and rice on the forehead of their brothers. Then, sister does aarti praying for the long and happy life of their brothers. Eventually, they offer sweets to them and then, the story of Bhai Dooj is narrated by elder members of the family.

Bhai Dooj (Bhai Phota) in West Bengal

In West Bengal, the festival of Bhai Dooj is called “Bhai Phota”. On this day, sisters keep fast till the time all the traditional customs of the festival are performed. After this, sisters apply tika made of sandalwood paste, ghee and kohl (kajal) on the forehead of their brothers. Then, the aarti is performed and sisters give sweets to brothers to eat. Coconut laddus and Kheer are the traditional sweets which are prepared on Bhai Phota in Bengal. While applying tika on their brother’s forehead, the sister chants a particular mantra, which is as follows:

“Bhratus tabaa grajaataaham

Bhunksa bhaktamidam shuvam Preetaye yama raajasya

Yamunaah Visheshatah”

This mantra means “I, your sister making you eat this holy rice for the pleasure of Yama and Yamuna“. In this way, she prays God to bless her brother with long and best life.

Bhai Dooj in Maharashtra & Goa

Marathi communities located in Maharashtra and Goa celebrate Bhai Dooj as Bhav Bij. On the day, sisters draw a square on the floor within the boundaries of which the brothers need to sit. After they are seated, there is a custom for them to eat a bitter fruit named Karith. After this, the rituals of applying the Tilak, traditional sweets like Shrikhand Puri and Basundi Puri are served to the brothers by their sisters. As it is traditional in Haryana, Maharashtra to celebrate the auspicious occasion of Bhau-beej, women who don’t have a brother, worship the moon God instead. This is the reason why children of Hindu parents lovingly call the moon Chandamama (Chanda means moon and mama meaning maternal uncle). Girls apply mehendi (henna) on their palms.

Bhai Dooj in Bihar

In the state of Bihar, the festival of Bhai Dooj is celebrated in the most distinctive way. Sisters curse their brothers in order to keep the evil spirits and dangers away from them. Then, prick their tongue with a wild prickly fruit as a punishment. By doing this, they ask their brothers to forgive them for any bad behaviour and mistakes which they have done till date. Apart from this, there is another unique tradition in which brothers eat grains of bajri with water from the hands of their sisters.

Tika in Punjab

In the state of Punjab and Punjabis celebrate the day after Diwali as “tika” and on this day, sisters prepare a paste with saffron and rice, and apply tika on their brothers’ forehead wishing to keep away all the difficulties and dangers from them. After this, they exchange sweets and gifts among each other.

Bhai tika in Nepal

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Bhai Dooj is celebrated as Bhai tika or Bhaitihar (meaning tihar of brothers) in Nepal. On this day, sisters pray to Yamraj for their brothers’ prosperity and long life. The most unique thing of Bhai tika is that sisters put seven colored long tika on their brothers’ forehead.

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