Day 5 – The final Day of the Diwali Festivities – Bhai Dooj – The Day of Love between Siblings

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26th October, 2022

The festival of Bhai Dooj has a literal meaning attached to it. It is made up of two words namely- “Bhai” meaning brother and “Dooj” meaning the second day after the new moon which is a day of its celebration.

Bhai Dooj or The teeka, as it is popularly known in the North & West India, celebrates the unconditional love bond between a brother and a sister. Bhai Dooj defines the eternal love between siblings and is dedicated to strengthening the bond between them.

The festival is celebrated on the very last day of the five days long Diwali and symbolizes firmness, honor, brilliance, respect and faith of a sister.

According to one of the popular legends, Bhai Dooj is associated with Lord Yama (the God of Death) and his sister, Yamuna. And this tale, narrated on the day of Bhai Dooj, pays tribute to the bond between the siblings.

According to this story, Surya Dev (the Sun God) had two children from Goddess Saranya- son Yama and a daughter Yamuna.

Despite being married to the Sun God, Saranya couldn’t endure the heat produced by him. Hence, with her divine powers, she created Chhaya, a woman who was identical to her in appearance. And soon after giving form to Chhaya, Saranya asked her to look after her children. Subsequently, she left her marital home forever.

However, Chhaya failed to shower motherly love on the children, and hence Yama and Yamuna had to take  good care of each other. As the two siblings grew up, Yamuna would often visit her brother’s house and invite him home. But Yama would always give lame excuses citing his busy schedule.

One day, he decided to surprise her. He visited her house, and his arrival made Yamuna beam with joy. She greeted him by putting tilak on his forehead and showering the Akshat on him. She also prepared the choicest food and took great care of him.

And before leaving, when Yama urged his sister to ask for a boon, she requested her brother to dedicate the day of his visit to siblings.

Another legend involves Lord Krishna. When he returned home after killing the devil Narkasur, his sister, Subhadra greeted him with flowers, fruits and sweets. She also applied a tilak on his forehead and prayed for his long life. From that day onwards, it became a tradition apply tilak on the forehead of the brother and in return the brother presents his sister with an enticing gift.

Since then, brothers would visit their sister’s home, get blessed with the tilak, enjoy a feast, spend substantial time with them, and return with her unconditional love and best wishes.

One might find it vague, but in the state of Bihar, on the occasion of Bhai Dooj, the sister scolds her brother and even abuses him, later apologises to him. This is done to vindicate the brother from his past sins. After this custom has taken place, the sister applies tilak and offers sweets to the brother.

Through Bhai Dooj, or Teeka, the sister wishes health, and longevity and well being of her brothers.

The unbroken rice grains added to teeka represent steadfastness and firmness of the brain and also a symbol of peace.

The basic idea of applying teeka by the sister is to pray to the Lord to protect her Brother from the evil effects existing in this world and from its binding cords.

Let’s Celebrate Bhai Dooj as a gesture of the love & bonding between siblings & stay blessed forever!