Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya is the most celebrated festival in India between a brother and a sister. It is the last day of the 5 daylong celebration of Diwali. This festival is the mark of a sister’s love and protective caring about their brothers.

The Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya falls on the shukla paksha of the month of Kartika, or according to Gregorian calendar, this festival is observed on the month of October or November. In 2019, the festival of Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya will be celebrated on the 29th of October, Tuesday.

  • Legend of Bhaiya Dooj

The legend behind the Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya is a loving one. Long ago, Surya, or the Sun God was married to a very pretty princess called Samjna, who had two twins called Yama and Yamuna. However, unable to bear the brilliance of Sun, Samjna left the Sun God and came down to Martya Lok, or earth. However, she left her replica Chhaya so that Sun God does not realize that she is not there. Unfortunately Chhaya was a wicked stepmother and soon drove Surya to banish the twins from heaven.

The twins while being banished fell in different places. The sister Yamuna fell on earth and became a river and Yama, fell into Patal or Hell and became the Kind of Death.  It was long time since the twins saw each other. Both of them missed each other. One day Yama decided to visit his sister and hearing this news Yamuna was ecstatic. It was just past Diwali, thus her house was all alight with lamps and she prepared a king’s feast to welcome her long lost brother Yama.

While leaving Yama said that since he had not brought any gift for Yamuna, she could name anything and he will get it for her. But his sister lovingly told him that his presence was enough, still if he wanted to give her something then let that day become a land mark day. She wished for that day to become the day when the brothers visited their sisters and the sisters prayed for the well being of their brothers. Yama proclaimed thus that let that be the case and all the brothers who bear gifts for their sisters will be blessed with a long and healthy life.

There is also the story of Lord Krishna and Subhadra, his sister. Lord Krishna went to see Subhadra after killing Narakasura, and Subhadra welcomed him by performing an Aarti and pitting a tilak or a tika on his forehead.

  • Various other names of the festival of Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya
  • Bhaiya Dooj – used in the northern states of India. This day may also coincide with the Gowardhan puja
  • Bhai Tika – Is used mostly amongst Nepali, Maithili and Chhetri people.
  • Bhai Phonta – this is celebrated in Bengal on the first or the second day of the Kali Puja .
  • Bhai Bij, Bhau Beej, or Bhav Bij – this is what is celebrated by the Marathi, Gujarati and Konkani speaking people


  • The ceremony of Bhaiya Dooj or Yama Dwitiya

The sisters on this auspicious occasion invite the brothers to their houses, where they prepare a traditional seat of flour of rice. Then the hands of the brother are washed with a paste of rice and vermillion. The sisters then offer the brothers Kaddu flowers, betel leaves, coins and betel nuts in their palms. Sisters chant mantras while applying kalawa in the hand. Tilak is done and aarti then is performed of the brother. Sisters light a lamp facing the south direction. In return the brothers wish their sisters and give them heartfelt gifts as a token of appreciation.

In Maharashtra and Haryana, on the occasion of Bhau Bij, women who do not have a brother worship and wish the moon god instead.

Bhai Phonta is West Bengal is a splendid occasion. The sisters chant mantras while putting a tilak on the forehead of their brothers and prepare a grand treat.

In almost all the states, this occasion calls for a family get together with lot of happiness and cooking of special dishes.  In Maharashtra there is a special dish for this occasion called the Kheerni puri or the Basundi Puri.

The festival brings a lot of happiness and warmth in the families, particularly amongst the brothers and sisters, and brings them closer.

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