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Bhai Dooj: Legend, Significance, Auspicious Timings

This post explains why and how Hindus celebrate this special occasion of brother-sister relationship other than Rakshabandhan and the timings the observers must follow on 29 October 2019


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The festival of Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dooj in northern India, Bhai Phonta in Bengal and Bhaubeej in Maharashtra are symbols of love and dedication that bonds a brother with his sister. On this day, married women invite their brothers at home and offer them food after applying tilak. Brothers and sisters living in the same house sit together and eat food on this day.

Some believe if on the day of Bhai Dooj, a brother-sister duo sits on a bank of the Yamuna and has a meal together, it is very auspicious, heralding an era of well-being of both thereafter.

This festival, which arrives two days after Diwali, is also known as Yama Dwitiya. On this day, there is also a custom of worshipping Yama (the god of death). It is believed Yama had visited his sister on this day and was received with warmth. Please, he blessed all brothers and sisters and uttered a boon that if brothers and sisters bathe in the Yamuna and have a meal together, they will lead prosperous, long and healthy lives.

Bhai Dooj: Auspicious timings

According to Hindu calendars, Bhai Dooj or Bhaiya Dooj is celebrated on the second day of the Kartika Shukla Paksha. Bhaiya Dooj arrives two days after Diwali. This year, Bhai Dooj or Yama Dwitiya is on 29 October.

Date: 29 October 2019
Dwitiya begins: 29 October 2019 at 06:13 AM
Dwitiya ends: 30 October 2019 at 03:48 AM
Best duration to observe Bhai Dooj: 01:00 AM to 11:00 PM tomorrow
Total duration: 2 hours 12 minutes

Importance of Bhaiya Dooj

Bhaiya Dooj has special significance in Hinduism. Besides Rakshabandhan, Bhaiya Dooj is the festival that celebrates the brother-sister relationship. While in Rakshabandhan, brothers promise to protect their sister forever, on the occasion of Bhai Dooj, the sister prays for her brother’s long life.

In some parts of the country, on this day sisters apply oil to their brothers and also make them take a bath. Taking a bath in the Yamuna is considered very auspicious. If a bath in the Yamuna is not possible, the brother should take a bath at his sister’s house on Bhai Dooj. If the sister is married, she should invite her brother home and provide him with food. It is considered good to feed rice to brothers on this day.

If one has no real sister, the festival can be celebrated with a cousin or even a neighbour with whom one’s relationship is like that between siblings. The message of this festival is undying affection between a brother and a sister. No matter how busy the two are in their lives, they should spend some moments with each other on this day.

Customary and ritualistic observation

  • On Bhai Dooj, wear clean clothes after bathing. On this day, the sisters wear new clothes.
  • For women/girls:
    • Draw an eight-petal lotus using akshata (take care not to break the rice), kumkum and roli. Fast with a prayer for the long life of brother and wish his well-being.
    • Worship Yama, the Yamuna, Chitragupta and Yamdoota. Now offer tilak to your brother and perform his ārati.
  • For men/boys: On this occasion, the brother should give his sister a gift.
  • Both brothers and sisters must fast until the ritual is over.
  • After the pujā is over, the brothers and sisters should have a meal together.

The Bhai Dooj legend

Sun god and his wife Chhaya gave birth to Yama and Yamuna. Yamuna loved her brother Yama a lot. She pleaded with him equally that, along with his close friends, he should come over and eat at her house. Yama, busy with his work, kept postponing his arrival. Then came the day of Kartika Shukla. Yamuna invited Yama again for food that day and made him commit he would honour the invitation.

Yama thought, “I end lives. Nobody wants to call me home. But it is my dharma to follow the goodwill with which my sister is calling me.”

On the way to the sister’s house, Yama freed all the creatures living in hell. Seeing Yama coming to his house, Yamuna was overjoyed. She bathed, worshipped and served food to Yama. Pleased with the hospitality of Yamuna, he asked the sister to seek a boon.

Yamuna said, “Oh Gentle One! You come to my house every year this day. Like me, any sister who invites her brothers home this day with hospitality should be freed of the fear of you.” Yama granted Yamuna her wish and gifted her generously.

Since then, the tradition of Bhai Dood, Bhaiya Dooj, Bhai Phonta or Bhaubeej started. It is believed that the brothers who accept hospitality of sisters on this day have no fear of Yama. For this reason, Yama and Yamuna are worshipped on Bhaiya Dooj.

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