India, a land of diverse cultures and traditions, celebrates the bond of love between siblings through various festivals. One such heartwarming celebration is Bhai Dooj, known by different names across different regions of the country. This festival falls on the fifth and final day of Diwali, following Govardhan Puja. It is a day when sisters express their affection for their brothers, and in return, brothers promise to protect and care for their sisters. Let's explore the significance and regional variations of Bhai Dooj in India and its neighboring country, Nepal.
Bhai Dooj in Northern India
In the northern parts of India, especially in states like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Bhai Dooj is widely celebrated. In these regions, it is also known as Bhaiya Dooj. The festival is observed with great enthusiasm and marks the conclusion of the Diwali celebrations. Sisters perform aarti and apply a tika (vermilion) on their brothers' foreheads, symbolizing their love and prayers for their well-being. In return, brothers offer gifts and pledge to protect their sisters throughout their lives.
Bhai Teeka in Nepal
Across the border in Nepal, Bhai Dooj is known as Bhai Teeka, and it is one of the most significant festivals after Dashain. It is celebrated on the fifth day of the Tihar festival. The festival is widely cherished by the Maithil community in Nepal, and it goes by the name "Bhardutiya Bhai Tika." Sisters put a tika of seven different colors, known as Saptarangi Tika, on their brothers' foreheads. The ceremony is an expression of the sisters' love and blessings for their brothers.
Bhai Phonta in Bengal
In West Bengal and parts of Bangladesh, Bhai Dooj is known as Bhai Phonta. It is celebrated on the second day after Kali Puja. Sisters perform special rituals, including the application of a tika on their brothers' foreheads. A significant aspect of this celebration is the exchange of gifts and sweets, reinforcing the bond between siblings.
Bhai Jiuntia in Western Odisha
In western Odisha, the festival is known as Bhai Jiuntia. Sisters observe a day-long fast, and the festival is celebrated with various rituals. Sisters offer their prayers for their brothers' longevity and prosperity, and brothers express their love and gratitude.
Bhau Beej in Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Karnataka
In the western states of Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Karnataka, Bhai Dooj is celebrated as Bhau Beej or Bhav Bij. Similar to other regions, sisters apply a tika on their brothers' foreheads and receive gifts and blessings in return.
Bhatru Dviteeya, Bhatri Ditya, or Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana
In the southern states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Bhai Dooj is known as Bhatru Dviteeya, Bhatri Ditya, or Bhaghini Hastha Bhojanamu. The festival is celebrated with brothers visiting their sisters, who welcome them with an elaborate meal and blessings.
Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya in South India
Bhai Dooj is also known by the name Yamadwitheya or Yamadvitiya, signifying the legendary meeting between Yama, the god of Death, and his sister Yamuna, the revered river. Their heartwarming reunion is celebrated on Dwitheya, the second day after the new moon. This mythological connection adds a deeper layer of meaning to the festival.
Bhai Dooj, celebrated under various names and with regional variations, stands as a testament to the enduring bond between siblings in India and Nepal. This festival not only strengthens family ties but also serves as a beautiful reminder of the love, care, and protection shared between brothers and sisters. Whether it's Bhai Dooj in the north, Bhai Teeka in Nepal, Bhai Phonta in Bengal, or any other regional variation, the essence of the festival remains the same—a celebration of the eternal sibling bond.
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