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Time For Some Sibling Love

Time For Some Sibling Love

Celebrated on the second day of the New Year, Bhai Dooj is one of the most popular festivals cherishing the bond between brother and sister, second to Raksha Bandhan. Every state in India has its own customs and rituals. Today on the occasion of Bhai dooj, let us take a sneak peek at the legends and customs behind this wonderful day which revels in sibling love and affection.

In Hindi, bhai means brother and dooj means the second day of the new moon. As its name suggests, Bhai dooj is observed two days after the new moon and is celebrated by siblings, wherein the sisters pray for the long life and safety of their brothers. Bhai dooj holds much significance for people living in Maharashtra, Gujarat, Goa and Karnataka, who call it ‘Bhaubeej’. It is also celebrated by the Bengalis, who call it ‘Bhai phonta’ and by the Nepalis who call it ‘Bhai tikka’.

The flame of the lamp lit during aarti is considered to be sacred and a symbol of the sister’s love for her brother, which will shelter him from any hurdles that he might have to face in life. In turn, the brothers bless and bestow gifts upon their sisters and then they sit down together for a mouthwatering meal consisting of shrikhand (flavoured yoghurt) puri or basundi (sweet, thickened milk to which spices and dry fruits is added) and bond over food and laughter.

Another legend states that on this day, after Krishna had killed Narakasura, he paid a visit to his sister Subhadra, who welcomed him with tilak, sweets and flowers to celebrate his victory and pray for his long life.

Whatever the reasons behind celebrating this festival may be, it is the perfect time for siblings to renew and strengthen their bonds and a great way to display their love for each other. Not to mention the heartwarming gifts the sister receives!

On this auspicious occasion, sisters invite their brothers to their house and feed them a prickly pear cactus, a green bitter fruit also known as ‘karith’ in Marathi. It is not only a highly nutritious fruit but is also supposed to have been eaten by Lord Krishna before he set out to vanquish the evil demon Narakasura. Then the sisters seat their brothers within a square space decorated with designs made with corn flour, after which they perform the teeka ceremony, wherein they apply teeka or kumkum (vermilion) on the brother’s forehead and then perform aarti, (worship with a lit lamp).

Bhai dooj also commemorates the love between the Indian messenger of death, Yama or Yamraj and his sister Yami or Yamuna, who met him on the second day of the new moon and applied teeka on his forehead for his safety and protection. Hence this day is also known as Yamadvitiya, where ‘dvitiya’ means ‘the second day of new moon’.

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