Also known in India as Bhaidooj, Bhaiduj or Bhai Duj, this festival is celebrated between brothers and sisters. The festival is also known as Bhai Phota, Bhatri Ditya, Bhai Tika, Bhathru Dwithiya and Yama Dwithiya. The celebrations mark a family reunion and are joyous occasions. In some parts of the country there are special cultural events organized on the occasion of the celebration.
On this day, sisters apply sacred tika on the foreheads of their brothers and pray for their long life. The brothers bless their sisters and promise to protect them from any danger in her life. Bhaiya means brother and Dooj means two later days of the new moon, as this festival is celebrated two days after Diwali in the month of Kartik according to the lunar calendar.
Although the celebration of Bhai Dooj is very much based on mythology, this festival also reflect the importance of the unique cultural traditions that vary in different regions of India. The sister decorates a thali with mithais, batasha, roli and rice around the coconut. A lamp is lit and after a small prayer, the sister applies the Teeka in the forehead of her brother. Then she gives offers the sweets to him.
Married women who live nearby visit the home of her parents early in the morning to greet her brothers, and those who live farther even take a few days to visit their brothers or express their love, blessings and send them your good wishes through mail. After the rituals are performed, the brothers give gifts to their sisters like clothes, utensils and mithai and fruits.
The legends form the backbone of any festival, especially for parents, to instill interest in younger generations and to impart the values of the festivities. Unique and interesting legends are associated with the festival of Bhai Dooj. Through time, the story of Bhai Dooja has been passed from generation to generation, by oral tradition.
According to some myths, Yama, the son of Vivasvat had a twin sister named Yami and on this day went to visit the home of his sister, to seek blessings from her before going for a war with the Devas. His sister, Yami was very happy to see him and welcomed him, putting a good omen on his forehead for his welfare. Yami and Yamraj then shared a meal. That's why this day of Bhaiya Dooj is also known by the name of Yama Dwitiya and is a symbol of love between brothers and sisters.
Another legend goes that when the Asura King Bali imprisoned Vishnu and the news reached his wife, she was greatly distressed. To release her husband from the prison, she tricked Bali and went to him as a poor woman seeking help. She told her that she did not have a brother and would like to have him as her brother. Bali agreed to be her brother thereafter and told her that she could ask for anything she wanted. Then the wife of Vishnu seeked the release of Vishnu. Then to keep his promise Vishnu was released from the prison of Bali.
According to another legend, on the day of Bhai Dooj, Krishna after defeating the Asura King Naraka, went to his sister Subhadra. She greeted him with a lamp, flowers and sweets, and put the sacred tilak in the forehead of her brother.
The festival predates Rakshabandhan and is more widely celebrated in northern India as Bhai Dooj that brings together brothers and sisters who are separated by distance and social obligations. The tilak applied on the forehead of a brother is considered very auspicious and is the main meaning of the festival, apart from gifts and sweets.