In today’s jet age, the traditional way of celebrating Bhai Dooj (or Bhai Phota as it is known amongst Bengalis) with tikas and mithais is fast disappearing. Instead emails, egifts and ecards are taking over. Try to change it this time. Celebrate this festival in all its glory and let your children enjoy themselves too.
Legend has it that Bhai Dooj began when Lord Krishna, after killing the demon Narakasura visited his sister Subhadra. She welcomed him with sweets and did his aarti and put a tika on his forehead.
Another legend has it that on this day Yamaraj (Lord of Death) visits his sister Yami. She puts a tilak on his forehead and prays for his wellbeing.
Yet another story emanates from the Jain religion. On this day Mahavir attained nirvana. His brother King Nandivardhan began to miss him thus and was comforted by his sister Sudarshana.
When is it Celebrated?
Bhai Dooj is celebrated on the second day of the Shukla Paksha in the Kartik month (it falls on the fifth and last day of Diwali and is on a new moon night). During this time a huge feast is held at the sister’s house.
As per the ritual the brother sits on an asana and the sister puts a vermillion tikka on her brother’s forehead and says mantra. The mantra signifies a sister’s faith in her brother that he will protect her from all odds.
A puja thai is also prepared. This thali has things like a diya, kumkum, rice grains, sweets. Some keep betel leaves and suparis on the thali too.
Once the tika is over, if the sister is elder then the brother touches her feet. And if the brother is older then vice versa. The older sibling blesses the younger one with grains of rice and dubya (3 grass blades). Then sweets are offered.
So if you have a son and a daughter then this is the right time to tell them, once again, how precious their bond is. And how much they will need each other at all walks of life. And don’t forget to explain the significance of this festival to them.