How Is Bhai Dooj Celebrated In India And Nepal?
Bhai Dooj is a festival similar to Raksha Bandhan that celebrates the bond between brothers and sisters. The basic idea of this famous Hindu festival revolves around sisters praying for a long and healthy life of their brothers. Known by different names in different regions, this event marks the end of the festive season in late October or early November.
How it all started
As per Hindu mythology, Lord Yama (king of the hell) once decided to visit his sister Yamuna two days after Diwali. Yamuna greeted her brother with a grand feast and a massive celebration. Before returning Lord Yama offered Yamuna a blessing of her choice as a gift. Yamuna wanted the day to be remembered by all brothers and sisters in the form of Bhai Dooj. It is since then that this annual festival is observed by brothers and sisters.
Celebration in Nepal
Known as Bhai Tika in Nepal, it is celebrated as the final part of Tihar (festival of light). Also known as Bhai Tihar, this grand ritual is followed by almost all sisters in Nepal. The most auspicious time for the ritual is declared by the royal astrologer, which is then religiously followed by the entire mass including the king.
When the king receives the royal tilak from his sister, a 31-gun salute is offered by the soldiers to make the event more special. It is customary for the sisters to provide a sumptuous meal along with fruits, sweets, and gifts as shagun to their brothers. The brothers return the favour with cash and gifts for their sisters. Bhai Tika is marked as a national holiday in Nepal, making it easier for the entire family including relatives to gather together for this special occasion.
Bhai Dooj in northern India
In North India, Bhai Dooj is celebrated in almost all parts with little to no variation. The tilak that is applied by sisters on the forehead of brothers is usually a mixture of five different colours. The tilak ceremony is followed by a grand meal and exchange of gifts.
Bhai Phonta in eastern India
The same festival is known by the name of Bhai Phonta in eastern India. The only striking variation is the use of dahi for tilak instead of colours. The meal and gifts remain an integral part of the celebration even in the eastern zone.
Bhau Beej in western Indian
In the western states of India, it is customary for girls who do not have brothers to offer Bhau Beej to the moon. The practice of calling moon ‘chandamama’ is a result of this ritual. The sisters perform aarti and apply a red-coloured tilak on the foreheads of their brothers to begin the ritual. Prayers are offered, gifts are exchanged, and a grand family feast is organised to complete the event.
You can call the festival by any name, but the basic spirit of celebrating the bond between brothers and sisters is common in all parts of India and Nepal. Have you ordered a special gift for your brothers/sisters yet?
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