Bhai dooj Greetings – The Story, Significance and Rituals
What is the reason and the story behind Bhai dooj greetings?
Some festivals commemorate the birth of a saviour, some commemorate changes in the weather, but most are about celebrating the victory of good over evil. Diwali, also called Deepavali, the festival of lights, is one such festival. It commemorates the slaying of Narakasura by Krishna and his wife Satyabhama. It also celebrates the defeat of the Asura King Mahabali by Lord Vishnu in the Vamana avatar.
Diwali celebrations last for five days, with each day having its own prominence and significance. The first is Dhanteras, second is Narak Chaturdashi, third is Lakshmi Puja, fourth is Bali Pratipada and the fifth and last day is Bhaidooj. It is known by different names in different states – Bhaubeej, Tikka, BhaiPhota, and so on, and the rituals vary slightly. But the underlying theme is the celebration of the love between brothers and sisters. Sisters seek to protect their brothers with their love and prayers, and brothers bless them and vow to be there for the sisters when they need their help.
The legend behind this particular Diwali celebration is that long long ago, Yama the God of Death, visited his sister Yamuna on the second Shukla Paksha of the Kartik fortnight and blessed her. He decreed that those who visited her on that particular day would have their slate of sins wiped clean, and would escape the agony of hell.
Since then, brothers have visited their sisters on this day (according to the Hindu calendar), to ask after them, bless them and shower them with gifts and exchange Bhai dooj greetings. This tradition stands to this day, and brothers look forward to the day they can visit their sisters’ homes and be pampered by them. For if sisters receive gifts from their brothers, they in turn pamper them with sumptuous dinners and sweets, and pray for their welfare and safety.
Even if the distances are too great to make actually visiting each other impossible, brothers and sisters find ways to exchange greetings and gifts. Now thanks to the internet and Smart phones, nobody is ever too far away. With instant messaging and chatting apps, loved ones are just a few taps or clicks away.
The modern way of sending Bhai dooj greetings and gifts is thru e-cards, online gifting sites and mail order services. Sending gifts to sisters or brothers who are miles away is super easy with these options. You can purchase sweets, hampers, diyas, pujathalis and so on online and have them shipped to your sibling. There are sites that specialize in shipping to the US, Canada and UK, as these countries have a sizable Indian population.