The second day of Shukla Paksh, the bright forthnight of Kartik is called Bhaiyaduj. There are various names of this festival. Known by the name of bhai-dooj in the Hindi-speaking belt, it is called “Bhav-Bij” in the Marathi-speaking communities and in Nepal, people know this festival by the name of “Bhai-Tika”.
There are various distinct ways in which this beautiful festival is solemnized. But the features that are common in all rituals is the act of smearing a tilak of roli (vermilion), kesar (saffron) and rice on the brother’s forehead by their sister as a mark of their love and protection.
In India, the legends are considered as the backbone of festival. They are also a great medium for parents to inculcate interest in the younger generation and to impart values of Indian festivals to them. There are many unique and interesting legends associated with Bhai Dooj festival. The various Bhai Dooj legends lays stree on the significance of the sacred relationship shared between a brother and a sister, making it an extremely vital festival. All these myths and legends mentioned below also effects the ritual and customs that are observed on this day. The famous legends associated with Bhai Dooj are as follows :
The Legend Of Lord Vishnu:
According to this legend, when Lord Vamadev was pleased with Bali maharaj and appeared in Vishnu-rupa, Bali asked a boon that Lord Vishnu would be on every door at Patalaloka. Vishnu agrees and goes to become a Dwarpalaka of Bali. When Goddess Lakshmi heard this news by Narad, she was in great distressed. Laxmi plays trick on Bali in order to make her husband return back to his original place.
She went to Bali as a poor woman seeking help. She says that she doesn’t have a brother and would dearly like one. Then Bali accepted her as his sister and told her to ask anything that she need. Then Laxmi replied that you have my everything in your service – please release Lord Vishnu. Thus, Lord Vishnu was released from the service of Bali.
The Legend Of Yamaraj and Yamuna:
According to Veda, Yamraj-God of dead is the son of Vivasvat. He had twin sisters named Yami or Yamuna. Yami, Yama’s twin sister, was transformed into the sacred river Yamuna in whose purifying waters people bathe on holy days. Yama was given an equally important role and made the god of Death, whom all fear. On Bhai Dooj day, Yami or Yamaraja was called to his sister’s home Yamuna, where she offered Aarti and a small gift for her brother.
Yama then told her that on this day brothers would be invited to their sisters’ home and in return the brother would bring a gift for his sister. Until today this tradition is maintained with great love. As Yama’s sister is Yamuna and she fed Yama to his satisfaction he said that from now on any brother who visits the sister on Bhai Dhuj day will escape the hand of Yamaraj – the sister prays for her brother.
The Legend Of Mahavira:
Another legend behind the origin of Bhai Dooj says that when Mahavir, the founder of Jainism, attained nirvana, his brother King Nandivardhan was distressed because he missed him and was comforted by his sister Sudarshana. Since then, sisters have been revered during Bhai Dooj.
The Legend Of Lord Krishna:
According to the legend, on the auspicious day of Bhai Dooj Lord Krishna, after slaying the Narakasura demon, goes to his sister Subhadra where she welcomes her brother with the lamp, sweets, flowers, etc and put the holy protective tilak on his forehead. Keeping this legend in mind, people celebrate the festival of Bhai Dooj with great enthusiasm and fervor.
The celebrations of Bhai dooj reflects the importance of unique cultural traditions that vary with different region of India. This helps to keep the family close and brings prosperity, well being and luck.
Dr Sindhu Prashanth