Bhai Beej

 

Bhai Beej is a prominent Hindu festival that marks the special relationship between brothers and sisters. It is celebrated on the second day after Diwali, which falls on the Shukla Paksha Dwitiya (the second day of the bright fortnight) of the Hindu month of Kartika. This festival goes by different names in various regions, such as Bhai Dooj in the North, Bhau Beej in Maharashtra, and Bhai Phonta in West Bengal.

Historical Significance

The origins of Bhai Beej are rooted in Hindu mythology. One of the most popular legends associated with this festival involves Yama, the god of death, and his sister Yamuna. According to the myth, Yamuna invited her brother Yama to her home, where she welcomed him with a tilak on his forehead, performed an aarti, and served him a sumptuous meal. Touched by her love and hospitality, Yama granted her a boon that every year, on this day, brothers who visit their sisters and receive a tilak would be blessed with a long and healthy life. This day thus came to be celebrated as Bhai Beej.

Rituals and Traditions

The celebration of Bhai Beej involves several rituals that highlight the affection and care between siblings:

1. **Tilak Ceremony**: The sister applies a ceremonial red mark (tilak) on her brother’s forehead, symbolizing her prayers for his well-being and protection from evil forces.

2. **Aarti**: The sister performs an aarti, a traditional ritual involving a lit lamp, which is circled around the brother’s face to invoke divine blessings.

3. **Exchange of Gifts**: Brothers and sisters exchange gifts as a token of their love. It is common for brothers to give presents or money to their sisters as a gesture of their affection.

4. **Feasting**: The sister often prepares a special meal for her brother, including his favorite dishes, adding to the festive spirit of the occasion.

Regional Variations

While the core essence of Bhai Beej remains the same, the way it is celebrated can vary regionally.

– **In Maharashtra**: Known as Bhau Beej, it involves similar rituals, with sisters praying for their brothers’ long life and brothers promising to protect their sisters.

– **In West Bengal**: Called Bhai Phonta, the celebration includes sisters fasting until the tilak ceremony and brothers gifting their sisters in return.

– **In Bihar**: The festival includes a unique ritual where sisters curse their brothers in jest to ward off evil spirits and then pray for their well-being.

Modern Celebrations

In contemporary times, Bhai Beej continues to be a cherished festival, fostering familial bonds. Even if siblings live far apart, they make an effort to connect through video calls and send gifts or money online. The essence of the festival has adapted to modern lifestyles while preserving its traditional significance.

Conclusion

Bhai Beej is more than just a ritual; it is a celebration of the unique and unconditional bond between brothers and sisters. It reinforces the familial ties that are cherished and honored in Indian culture. Through its customs and traditions, Bhai Beej serves as a reminder of the love, care, and mutual respect that siblings share, making it a festival filled with warmth and affection.