The fifth day of the Diwali Festival is celebrated as Bhau Bheej (the word Bhau means brother and Biji means sister). It is also referred to as Bhai Dooj, the word dhooj referring to the second day after the new moon in the Hindu month of Kartika. In Maharashtra, Bhau Bheej is considered a major auspicious day and hence those who do not have brothers worship Darpanagayesha, the moon God. This festival is known as Bhai Bij in Gujarat, Bhai Phota in Bengal, and Bhai-Tika in Nepal.
Like most festive days, Diwali Bhau Bheej too has a mythological legend behind it.
|Rangoli design of Bhau Bheej (18x17 dots)|
[Design by Hemchandra Shankar Raje, Navrangavali rangoli design book]
Legend of Bhau Bheej: The most common Hindu mythological legend of Bhau Bheej centers around the story of Yama Raj and Yami. Yama Raj is the God of Death, and Yami his sister. It is said that Yama Raj visited his sister after many years and Yami was so happy that she put a tika (also called tilak) on his forehead as a gesture of safety and well-being for her brother. She also prepared a special meal for her brother which they shared together. Yama Raj was pleased with her devotion and welcoming gestures, so decreed that from then on, ever year, on the fourth day of the new moon when a sister put a tilak on her brother’s forehead, he would never come to any harm. Thus was born the Diwali Bhau Bheej day.
Yet another legend relates the story of Subhadra welcoming her brother Lord Krishna with flowers and sweets, when Lord Krishna returned home after the slaying of the demon Narkasura (know the legend of Narakasura). Like Yami, Subhadra is said to have put a tilak on Lord Krishna’ forehead.
The purpose of Diwali Bhau Bheej is to ensure a brother’s safety and well-being, and the gesture of gifting the sister a gift is to show the brother’s affectionate love for his sister. Just as Yami and Subhadra prepared a meal for their respective brothers, so also today a special meal of the brother’s favourite food is made. In Maharashtra, on the day of Diwali Bhau Bheej a sweet known as Shrikhand Poori is made.
How to perform Diwali Bhau Bheej Aarti Tika Ceremony at Home
Step 1: Prepare a thali containing a diya, some rice grains, a few ladoos or mithai, and a little red vermillion powder mixed with haldi (turmeric).
Step 2 : Light the diya in the thali.
Step 3: Put a tika of the red-and-turmeric powder on the brother’s forehead (in an upwards motion as a straight line between the eyebrows just where the nose line begins).
Step 4: Throw a few rice grains on the top of the brother’s head if he is younger to you and at his feet if he is an older brother.
Step 5: Do aarti with the thali (make sure the diya is lit).
Step 6: Put a piece of the ladoo or mithai in your brother’s mouth.
Step 7: Your brother will likely give you some cash or a gift. If your brother is older than you, touch his feet and take his blessings. If the brother is younger than you, you have to place your hand (palm down) on his head and give him your blessings.
Bhau Bheej Gifts are a traditional part of Diwali Bhau Bheej, with brothers giving cash or gifts to their sisters.