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Festivals - Bhai Dooj

ALL FESTIVALS IN THE HINDU WAY OF LIFE ALWAYS HAVE something to do with relatives. Family ties are paramount- these ties keep the family unit together, throughout a lifetime. Generally, the girl of the house is given presents of clothes, utensils, and lots of mithai and fruits at festivals, but there are two festivals where the girl (after marriage) gives presents to her brothers- she sends mithai and fruit ti her mother's house. These two festivals are Raksha Bandhan and Bhai Dooj.Bhai Dooj comes twice a year- once after Holi and again after Diwali. The name itself denotes the day of the festival,


i.e., it falls on Dooj, the second day after the full moon, i.e., the day following Holi, is celebrated as Bhai Dooj. Since Diwali falls on the absolutely dark night of Amavasya (new moon), Dooj comes two days after Diwali. For a married girl, it is also a good time for a get-together with her own family, as she can discuss the events of the big festivals that have preceded Bhai Dooj, especially so for the newly wed, who is keen to tell her mother, sisters and brothers, what all she received during Diwali and Holi celebrations. She brings home the jewellery and clothes that she has acquired, and talks about the excitement of having 'shut up' her-in-laws during Holi, how she had to sing to get her neg (present), or how everyone made a beeline for her and her husband with the pichkaris, and how she was dumped in the tub, and how the different foodstuffs tasted in different homes and so many other things!
In any case, the show of affection for her brother is always paramount in a sister's mind. She takes a teeka for her brother on both the occasions, consisting of the very auspicious items of puja, namely:
(i) Coconut.
(ii) Batashas.
(iii) Mithai.
(iv) Fruits.
(v) Seven paans.
(vi) Roli.
(vii) A little rice.


On Bhai Dooj, the teeka is applied on the brother's forehead but no present of money need necessarily be given by the brother.The sister usually goes in the morning and does the puja in the mother's house, before the brothers leave for their places of study or work. However, the puja can always be arranged in the evening, because distances are nowadays very great, even if one tries to reach early.


Also, the teeka can be sent to the brother's house, if the sister is unable to go herself. Later in life, money can be given to sisters-in-law to buy the necessary items on behalf of the sister, especially if the brother lives in a different town. A little roli and rice can be sent in an envelope by post.
The puja itself is carried out in the puja room, or on the same chowk that had been decorated for Diwali. There is no special deity for this puja. The Diwali chowk should not be cleaned up until the Dooj puja. At the time of Holi, one is generally too tried to decorate a chowk, as Dooj comes on the very next day. So, it is best to do the puja in the regular puja room. The sister decorates the mithai, batashas, roli and rice along with the coconut on a thaali. The puja lamp is lit; everyone does the puja, and the sister applies the teeka on the forehead of the brother, and gives him a few of the eatables along with the coconut.The brother takes some portion to eat, and he is then free to move out, while the women and children sit around, to hear the story behind Bhai Dooj from someone who knows it.


The story goes as follows:
Once upon a time there was an only brotherand an only sister, living in a village along with their widowed mother. As is the custom in villages, the girl were married young, and so was this sister.The sister had to go and live in another village. The brother was much younger to her, and was only about five years old when his sister got married. He grew up and slowly the image of his sister faded from his memory. He was not even sure whether he really had a sister.
The festival of Bhai Dooj used to come and go every year and he would watch sisters and brothers make merry. Every one of his friends boasted of a teeka on his forehead applied by his sister. Of course, he also had a teeka on his forehead, but his mother had put it. On one Bhai Dooj, he asked his mother, 'Ma, have I not a sister, to put a teeka on my forehead? All the boys in the village receive thaals full of mithai and good things for the festival, but I have to make do with what is in the house, or what you buy for me!'
The mother replied with a sigh: 'Son, you have a sister alright. You were too young when she got married, and was taken away to another village.' The boy asked: 'But then, why does she not come and visit us? I have never seen her.'
The mother replied: 'You may not remember, but you were there as a small child, during the marriage. She does not come because there is a big forest between this village and the one in which she lives and there is a big river flowing in between. One has to cross the riverby boat and then there are wild animals which fill people with people with so much te

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