Diwali, popularly referred to as the Festival of light, is one of the richest and grandest celebration in hindu community. It has huge significance and meaning to devotees. During the celebration, people light Diyas to illuminate their homes and wash away darkness. Each of the five days of the Diwali Festival has its roots in mythology. They have their own signification in the life of the people celebrating this feast.
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Fifth Day of Diwali – Bhai Dooj
On the fifth day, known as Bhai Dooj, the love and unique bond between a brother and a sister is given recognition. Since this day falls on the second day after Diwali, or on Shukla Paksha Dwitiya in the Hindi month of Kartik, it marks the end of the Diwali celebration. This celebration is known as Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Duj.
Legends of Bhai Dooj
Bhai Dooj’s origin is from the two versions of a story about the love of a sister to her brother. Both the Hindus and the Buddhists of India acknowledge this special bond between siblings. According to the Hindi version of the story, the God of Death, Lord Yamraj paid a visit to his sister Yamuna on the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya day. She heartily welcomed him in her home. She cooked delicious foods and prepared sweets for him. She even performed Aarti for him, applied tilak on his forehead and gave him a beautiful garland. Because of the warm welcome of his sister to him, Lord Yamraj was delighted and touched. He gave her presents and showered her with blessings. Along with the blessings is the promise that every time a brother visits his sister on this particular day, he will be prospered with good health and wealth. Thus, this has been the start of this tradition. This has been also called Yam-Dwitiya in honor of Lord Yamraj.
The other version of the story is the Buddhist version. According to this story, after Bhagwaan Mahavir attained Nirvana, his brother Raja Nandi-Vardhan became very sad and missed him very badly. Because of that, his sister Sudarshana comforted him. She helped him ease the loneliness he was feeling. Since then, the women have been valued more by their brothers because of their efforts, love and understanding to their brothers. By celebrating Bhai Dooj, the Buddhists of India put an end to the celebration of the Nirvana of Lord Mahavir.
The two stories both entail the love of a brother and a sister. During the celebration, men and women get up early in the morning and get ready for the day. This practice is based on the first version of the legendary origin of the festival. When the brothers arrive, the sisters perform Aarti and apply a beautiful Tilak or Teeka on the forehead of their brothers. They prepare sweet foods, such as ladoo, for their brothers and they exchange gifts with each other.
This festival is popular in different regions with different names. In Maharashta, it is known as Bhav-Bij. The people in Bengal know this festival as Bhai-Phota and as Bhai-Teeka in Nepal.