Happy Bhai Dooj to all Indian brothers and sisters

5-day Diwali festival ends celebrating brotherly-sisterly love

It is said that nowhere is the bond of brotherly-sisterly love glorified with such grandeur as in India. Hindus celebrate this special relationship twice every year, with the festivals of Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj (also Bhau-beej or Bhai Phota).

Bhai Dooj comes every year on the fifth and last day of Diwali – popularly known as the "festival of lights"- which falls on a new moon night. The name 'Dooj' means the second day after the new moon, the day of the festival, and 'Bhai' means brother.

On this day, sisters all over India celebrate their love by putting an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on the forehead of their brothers and perform an aarti of him by showing him the light of the holy flame as a mark of love and protection from evil forces. Sisters are lavished with gifts, goodies and blessings from their brothers.

Like all other Hindu festivals, Bhai Dooj too has got a lot to do with family ties and social attachments. It serves as a good time, especially for a married girl, to get together with her own family, and share the post-Diwali glee.

For Hindus, the story behind each festival play a very important role in the formation of their culture and have a very deep significance and values. Just like all important Indian Festivals, Bahi dooj also has a story to follow that helps understand the true significance of the festival.

Three main legends are linked to this day.

According to one legend, on this day, Lord Krishna, after slaying the Narakasura demon, goes to his sister Subhadra who welcomes him the lamp, flowers and sweets, and puts the holy protective spot on her brother's forehead.
Yet another story behind the origin of Bhai Dooj says that when Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, attained nirvana, his brother King Nandivardhan was distressed because he missed him and was comforted by his sister Sudarshana. Since then, women have been revered during Bhai Dooj.
Bhai Dooj is also called 'Yama Dwiteeya' as on this day it is said that Yamaraj, the Lord of Death and the Custodian of Hell, visits his sister Yami, who puts the auspicious mark on his forehead and prays for his well being. Thus anyone who receives a tilak from his sister on this day is said will never be hurled into hell.

Through generations, the story of Bhai Dooj has been passed from generation to generation either by word of mouth or through carefully stored scriptures. The narration of the story marks the end of the Bhai dooj puja. Once the various rituals of Bhai dooj such as the sister applying the teeka on the forehead of the brother, giving him the eatables and in return receiving the gifts are over, the women and children sit around, to hear the story behind Bhai Dooj from the elders of the family.

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