Bhai Dooj is a Hindu festival that’s observed on the second lunar day of Shukla Paksha in the Vikrami Calendar (also known as Vikram Samvat) or in the Shalivahan Shaka calendar month known as Kartika. This places it between October and November of the year on the Gregorian calendar.
It also should be noted that this holiday is called by different names in different places. In Northern India, it’s known as Bhai Dooj, but in Nepal, it’s known as Bhai Teeka, in Bengal it’s known as Bhai Phonta, and in Western Odisha, it’s known as Bhai Jiuntia. It’s also known as Bhatri Ditya and Bhatru Dviteeya in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh, respectively.
The Symbolic Meaning Of Bhai Dooj
The one key tenet that lies at the heart of Bhai Dooj. Although in Hinduism there are holidays dedicated to married couples and holidays dedicated to the bond shared by parents and children, this holiday celebrates the love between a brother and a sister. It celebrates that unconditional love and is a day that’s dedicated to those bonds being strengthened between them.
The Origin Of Bhai Dooj
This Hindu festival can be traced back to several different legends and stories that have been passed down through the millennia. According to one legend, Lord Krishna paid a visit to his sister Subhadra after he killed the demon Narkasur. When he arrived at her home, she received him warmly and made the occasion special by feeding him a grand meal, giving him treats, and by adorning her home with flowers. She also applied a ceremonial tilak on his forehead. This forms the basis for the entire holiday and is why it’s been celebrated for so long.
How Bhai Dooj Is Observed
On the day that this festival falls, sisters will invite their brothers to their homes to enjoy a meal featuring their favorite foods. These meals are usually all-out feasts that include several main courses, sides, and even dessert.
Although ceremonies during the course of this day may change from culture to culture, it usually involves the sister performing Arti — a puja that offers light — for their brother. The sisters will also apply a red tika to their brother’s forehead. This tika ceremony indicates the sister’s wish for her brother to live a long and prosperous life. The brother will then bless their sister and may give them cash and/or gifts.
Unlike other Hindu holiday festivals, however, this one isn’t based on scripture, so different people may observe this holiday in different ways and with different rituals. That’s why it can be difficult to attribute particular puja or rituals to this holiday.
In modern times, it’s also been customary for siblings to give each other greeting cards. In fact, a pretty large greeting card industry has grown up around this holiday and it’s now customary for many people celebrating this holiday to give their brother or sister a greeting card around this day. Many businesses have also cashed in on the popularity of this holiday by offering special Bhai Dooj gifts.