Bhai Dooj is a very popular festival in India. It is celebrated a day or two after Diwali. This year in 2012 the date is today 15th November 2012. The date however keeps changing year to year. On this day sisters visit the house of their brother. They exchange gifts. They also carry a plate full of sweets, fruits and other goodies. In some part of the country the sister puts a red Tilak on the brother’s forehead.
In West Bengal this is called Bhaiphota. The sisters put chandan ka Tilak in West Bengal. Sisters and brothers wake up early. They wear new clothes. After this the sisters do a Bhai Dooj Puja. They do aarti of the brothers. Both the brother and the sister must fast before they perform Bhai Dooj. The sisters pray to god for a long life for their brothers in this festival promise that they will always take care of their sisters. Some elder brothers give gifts to their sisters too. Now that you know what exactly the festival is like and how it is celebrated.
We are now going to discuss how the festival started or rather the story of Bhai Dooj. It is true that all our festivals have a story behind them. This is what makes our culture so special and different. TheBhai Dooj katha goes like this. There was a family once upon a time in India. The family was a small one consisted of one brother and a sister. The sister was elder to the brother. When the sister was of marriageable age her parents got her married. The day she got married and was leaving for her husband’s house the brother was very upset.
The brother was very small so with time he started to forget about his sister. She initially did visit her mother’s house. However, with time she stopped visiting her mother’s house. The boy grew up with time. Every year he would see his friend’s celebrating Bhai Dooj. He would miss his sister very badly. He grew up to be a young and strong man. The mother tells him one day that it is a custom that the sister selects the bride for the brother. The brother asks his mother why his sister never visits them. The mother told him that the path to his sister’s village is filled with life threatening dangers so she is unable to visit them. He decides that he will go to his sister’s village on Bhai Dooj. The mother gets very upset and worried at her son’s decision.
The mother tells the lad what he can expect. There is a river on the way that drowns people. A forest that is full of wild animals. Then there is a huge mountain to cross. These create a lot of problems for the people who try to cross them. The brother said that he does not care he wants to go and meet his sister on Bhai Dooj. The story of Bhai Dooj takes an interesting turn now. When the brother tries to cross the river it increases its water level and tries to drown him. He tells the river to drown him when he is back after seeing his sister. The river agrees. After the river he enters the wild forest. In the forest he sees a lot of dangerous snakes who want to bite him. He prays to them and tells them that they can bite him when he is back from his sister’s place. They agree too. After the forest comes the huge mountain that starts throwing rocks on the lad. He prays to the mountain that he is going to meet his sister. On his way back the mountain can crush him.
After all these hardships when he reaches very close to his sister’s village. He encounters a huge lion who wants to eat him right away. He pleads to the lion that he has come there after facing a lot of hardships just to celebrate Bhai Dooj with his sister. The lion can eat him when he is going back home. The lion trusts him and lets him go. The brother is happy that he is safe but he knows that his days are limited and he will die soon. The sister is thrilled to see the lad she embraces him. She performs the Bhai Dooj puja as she had been doing for years. Then she applies the Tilak on his forehead. After that she offers him sweets and fruits in a plate. The brother is also very happy at all this.
The sister is so happy that she makes many delicacies for him. Like Kachori, Puri and kheer. This tradition is still followed the sister makes delicacies for her brother even now. The brother in law came home in the evening and is very happy to see the lad. They together spend a good time witheach other. Soon the day arrives when the brother has to leave. He tells his sister that his days are limited now as on his way he had promised the lion, mountain, snakes and the river to kill him on his journey back. They all are waiting for him. The sister gets scared and decides to accompany him and ensure that he reaches home safely. She packs some small things that she can offer these dangers on the way back. She packs a loaf of meat, some milk, silver and gold flower, rice and roli for the journey. She does not tell her brother about this.
Next day morning they leave the house in the morning. On the way the lion is the first danger that they encounter. The sister gives him a loaf of meat and tells him to leave her brother. The lion is pleased with the meat and allows them to go. After this they come across the huge mountain that starts throwing stones and rocks at them. The sister quickly takes out the silver and gold flowers and does the puja which pleases the mountain. He lets them go. After a while they come across a snake. She gives him the milk that she was carrying and it too leaves without hurting the brother. Now it is time to cross the roaring river that is waiting to drown the lad. The sister takes out some roli and rice to do the puja. The river is satisfied with the puja and soon the river calms down and lets them swim across.
The sister and brother are very happy and excited that they could handle all the trouble so well. The sister is tired and thirsty after all the hardships that they had to face. So she goes to get some water from the gypsies that she could spot close by. The brother waits for her to return. The gypsies tell her that the lad with her is going to die soon as some evil spirits are trying to harm him. The gypsies have special powers and they can predict future of the people. The sister gets very upset and tells that she can do anything to save the lad. An old woman among the gypsies tells her that there is a solution. She has to get the brother married soon. Before the marriage actually happens she has to go on cursing the brother. All the ceremonies of the marriage have to be performed on her first and then on her brother. This was the only way to save the lad.
The Bhai Dooj katha now takes a very interesting turn again. The sister returns back to the brother with water and starts to curse him and call him names. The brother is confused. He has no idea what went wrong. She continues to misbehave with him even after reaching her mother’s house. The villagers and the family members are confused and angry. However, they cannot do much to the girl as she is a married woman and has come home after a long time. They just tolerate her rude behaviour.
She tells her mother that she will leave only after the brother is married off. The mother agrees and they start looking for a good girl. They soon find one and the date of marriage is fixed. While the marriage preparation is on there is no change in the behaviour of the girl. He is as rude to him as ever. He keeps abusing him the whole day. The family members and the villagers just want the marriage to be over so that she leaves as they too cannot take this anymore.
On the day of the marriage she insists that all the ceremonies are performed on her first before they are done on her brother. No one is able to understand why she is demanding something so weird. Nevertheless, they agree to her demands as they cannot take the abuses anymore. First the sehra is tied on her forehead before her brother. She pulled a small snake from it. Then the sehra was put on the brother. Now the sister insisted that the barat should leave from the back door and not from the front door as the tradition generally is. The sister fell asleep when the barat was leaving. This is why they left from the front door. The whole porch fell and narrowly escaped the brother. This sound woke up the sister.
They soon reached the house of the bride. When the time for phera came the sister fell asleep again. Soon after the first round of the seven the brother fell unconscious. This was so as the evil spirits had come to take him away with them. The confusion that happened woke up the sister. She soon reached the mantap and started abusing the brother again. The evil spirits got scared of the abuses and they left. The boy gained senses and completed the remaining pheras. It is a custom that after the phera is over the bride feeds kheer to the groom. Now again the sister said that she should be given kheer first. The bride obliged and the sister could find a needle in the kheer.
The wedding was finally over and all were happy. Everyone waited for the sister to leave as she had been behaving very badly since she had come. Before leaving the sister told everyone what the gypsy woman had told her and how she tried to save her brother from the evil spirits. This explained why she was cursing her beloved brother for so long and why she was so adamant that the marriage ceremonies are performed on her first. She also showed the needle that she got from the kheer. The mother and the villagers were shocked to hear the actual story. Some of them even had tears in their eyes. All the villagers touched her feet and they said that everyone should have a sister like her who is willing to face any danger and do anything for the safety of her brother. If she had not done what she was doing it would have been a very big tragedy and both the families would have suffered. This is the original and the very popular Bhai Dooj katha. This is exactly why unlike rakhi the brother doesn’t visit the sister. Instead the sister visits the brother. Brothers visiting sisters can be a bad omen and bring danger on the brother.
These are some of the details about the story of Bhai Dooj. The festival of brothers and sisters, it celebrates this special bond. The story is interesting indeed. However, this is what has started the festival and is still being followed. It is an integral part of our tradition. Some may feel that it is just a story and it never happened. We just wanted you to know whatBhai Dooj katha actually is as very few people are aware of the same. Even today in the Bhai Dooj puja this katha is recited by the ladies of the house. Before the Bhai Dooj ceremony actually starts.