Bhai Dooj is a Hindu festival which celebrates the love between a brother and sister. On the occasion of Bhai Dooj, women pray to the Gods for long and prosperous lives for their brothers. It is celebrated two days after Diwali. This year, Bhai Dooj will be celebrated on November 9.
On Bhai Dooj, women invite their brothers home and apply ‘teeka’ or ’tilak’ on their foreheads and offer prayers to the Gods while their brothers present them with gifts in return.
The festival, which shares similarities with Raksha Bandhan, is known by various names in different parts of India like Bhau Beej among Gujarati, Marathi and Konkani-speaking communities, Bhai Phota among Bengalis and Bhai Teeka in Nepal.
Mythology is divided on the origins of Bhai Dooj. According to one belief, Yamraj, the God of Death, visited his siter Yami on this day. Yami, also known as Yamuna, welcomed him with an aarti, applied ’tilak’ on his forehead and offered him sweets. Moved by her love, Yamraj presented her with a gift that signified his love and affection towards her. The God of Death also declared that any brother who would receive an ‘aarti’ and ’tilak’ from his sister on this day should never be afraid of death.
This story is the reason why the festival is celebrated as 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 aarti, tilak, sweets and flowers after he killed the demon king Narakasur.