Bhai Dooj celebrations will be on in full swing across the country today. For many, it is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu calendar. The sibling relationship gets yet another day to itself. In many ways, Bhai Dooj celebrations are similar to the Rakshabandhan celebrations. Many even call them clone festivals. However, Bhai Dooj celebrations, unlike Rakshabandhan, vary as per the region where it is being celebrated. Each region has its own set of backstory, cultural beliefs and traditions attached to this festival.
India is a land of many festivals. It is also a land of many religions. There is a reason we have the ‘Unity in Diversity’ tag attached to our country. Today is just one of those days when despite it being the same festival, the way it is celebrated differs. Let’s have a look at the variety in the Bhai Dooj celebrations across the nation.
1. Maharashtra & Goa
The Maharashtrians call this festival Bhav Bij. On this day, the sisters make their brothers sit on a square shaped mattress or a mattress with a shaped platform in it. After this, they consume a sweet called ‘Karith’. Once this is done, the sisters apply tilak on the forehead of their brothers. The festivities end by serving and eating traditional sweets like Basundi Puri and/or Shrikhand Puri.
2. Uttar Pradesh
The sisters give their brothers a piece a cloth knotted in a circular shape. In this cloth, there are balls of sugar also known as ‘batashas’. This piece of cloth is called the ‘aabf’. Each brother is given two aabf. After giving the aabf, the sister follows the rituals of applying tikka and performing an aarti to pray for the long and happy life of her brother. After this, sweets are offered and the Bhai Dooj celebrations end by a narration the story of Bhai Dooj.
3. West Bengal
The Bengalis call this festival Bhai Phota. The sisters observe a fast till all the traditional customs are performed. The rituals begin by applying a tika made out of sandalwood paste, ghee and kohl on the forehead of the brother. After this, the sister performs an aarti for the brother. Once the aarti has been performed, the traditional sweets like kheer and naaru are served. While applying the tika, the sister chants a special verse praying for their brother’s long life.
The Bhai Dooj celebrations in Bihar are a little unique. The festival is called Bhaiya Dooj in this state. On this day, the sisters curse their brothers. They do so to keep the evil spirits and dangers away from their brother. First they say bad things to their brothers and then they prick their tongues with a wild prickly fruit as a form of punishment for saying such bad things. Following this, the sisters ask the brother’s forgiveness for her ill behaviour and mistakes till date. Another unique ritual of this state in the Bhai Dooj celebration is that of feeding the brothers with (the sisters actually feed the brothers with their own hands) grains of bajri and water.
In this state, the day after Diwali is celebrated as tika. On this day, the sisters apply a paste made out of saffron and rice on the foreheads’ of their brothers. This is done to keep away all difficulties, dangers and troubles away from them. Gifts and sweets are exchanged between the brothers and sisters after the tika is applied.
In Gujarat, the festival is called Bhai Beej. The traditional tilak ceremony is observed on this day in which the sisters apply tilak on the forehead of their brothers. After applying tilak, the sister performs an aarti praying for the good fortune and long life of her brother. She then offers sweets to her brother and in return the brother blesses her. Gifts are exchanged at the end of all rituals.
So, which one of these varied Bhai Dooj celebrations do you observe? And here’s hoping that whichever ritual and celebration it is, it strengthens the bond between you and your siblings. We wish you all a very Happy Bhai Dooj.
(originally written for TopYaps.com)