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Bhai Dooj, Indian Festival Celebrating Brother-Sister Bond

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Brajendra Jha
Brajendra Jha is an Ex IFs and established scholar in the field of Indian History, Culture and Hinduism.

Bhai Dooj is the ultimate celebration of the bond between brothers and sisters. While quite similar to Raksha Bandhan, it has its own way of celebration and is more traditional and spiritually more devoted.

Bhai Dooj 2020 in India Date: Monday, 16 November

Rangoli for Bhai Dooj
Rangoli for Bhai Dooj

For every brother and sister, the day of Bhai Dooj festival celebration comes as a day of opportunity to celebrate their bond of love and care as well as strengthen it by following the auspicious rituals.

Bhai Dooj, History And Significance

Bhai Dooj Tika
Bhai Dooj Tika

Bhai Dooj is known by various names in different parts of the country like Bhau Beej, Bhai Teeka or Bhai Phota.

Mythology is divided on the origins of Bhai Dooj. According to some, Yamraj, the God of Death, visited his sister on this day. His sister, Yami who is also known as the Yamuna, welcomed him with an aarti, and after applying tilak on his forehead, he offered him, sweets. In return, Yamraj gave her a gift that signified his love and affection towards her.

Moved by his sister’s love, Yamraj declared that any brother who would receive an aarti and tilak from his sister on this day should never be afraid of death.

This led to the traditional practice of tilak during the war of Hindu kings in ancient to middle ages. A tradition of tilak before going to a significant battle.

This story is also the reason behind the festival being called Yama Dwitiya in some parts of the country.

Another popular origin story for the festival is that Lord Krishna’s sister Subhadra welcomed him with an aartitilak, sweets, and flowers after he killed the demon king Narakasur.

Difference between Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj

Bhai Dooj Bond between brother and sisters
Bhai Dooj Bond between brother and sisters
  • Bhai Dooj is a festival when women pray to the Gods for long and prosperous lives for their brothers. While in Raksha Bandhan a shared bond between brothers and sisters emphasizes on a promise of protection of the later. No other culture or religion celebrates the bond between siblings so strongly.
  • Both festivals are also celebrated at different times during the year. While Bhai Dooj falls two days after the glorious festival of Diwali, which falls in the month of October or November, Raksha Bandhan is celebrated in the month of August or September.
  • On Bhai Dooj women invite their brothers home and apply ‘teeka’ or ’tilak’ on their foreheads and offer prayers to the Gods and the brothers present their sisters with gifts in return. Meanwhile in Rakhi also tilak is applied with a sacred thread that is tied to the hands of the brothers and they present their sister with gifts like in Bhai Dooj.

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