Bhai Dooj: Brother-Sister Ritual
Nowhere is the bond of brotherly-sisterly love glorified with such grandeur as in India. Hindus celebrate this special relationship twice every year, with the festivals of Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj.
After the high voltage celebrations of Diwali, the festival of lights and fire-crackers, sisters all over India get ready for ‘Bhai Dooj’ when sisters ceremonize their love by putting an auspicious tilak or a vermilion mark on the forehead of their brothers and perform an aarti of him by showing him the light of the holy flame as a mark of love and protection from evil forces. Sisters are lavished with gifts, goodies and blessings from their brothers.
Bhai Dooj comes every year on the fifth and last day of Diwali, which falls on a new moon night. The name ‘Dooj’ means the second day after the new moon, the day of the festival, and ‘Bhai’ means brother.
Every brother eagerly awaits this occasion that reinforces the bond between brothers and sisters and their affectionate relationship. It’s an opportunity for a good feast at the sister’s place, coupled with an enthusiastic exchange of gifts, and merriment.
Nowadays, sisters who are unable to meet their brothers send their tika the spot of protection in an envelope by post. Virtual tilaks and Bhai Dooj e-cards have made it even easier for brothers and sisters, who’re far away from each other, specially remember their siblings on this propitious occasion.