Bhai Dooj festival is also known by the name of Yamadwitheya. We all know that this festival celebrates the beauty of the eternal bond of love and affection between a brother and a sister. The festival is the last day of the diwali celebrations. This falls on the second day after Diwali and the next day after new moon night. Dhanatrayodashi, Narakchaturdashi, Amavasya (Laxmi Pujan), Balipratipada and Yamadvitiya also called Bhai Dooj are the five days which comprise Diwali. Each day is associated with a religious significance.
One of the most commonly told legend of Bhai Dooj is the tale of Yamaraj, the Hindu mythological god of Death. The reason why the festival is also know as Yamadwitheya is from the legend of god Yama Raja himself. Story says that Yamaraj met his twin-sister Yami or Yamuna after a long period of separation. The day was ‘Dwitheya’ or ‘Dooj Day’ (second day after new moon). When Yami saw her brother after a long period of time, she was very happy and she welcomed Dharam Raj (another name for Yama) wholeheartedly. She applied red tilak on his brother's forehead and treated him a sumptuous meal. Yamaraj was very happy receiving such a warm reception from his sister. It was due to this he announced that whosoever receives a teeka from his sister on the day of ‘Dooj’ will not be hurled to hell. Hence the day is also referred as Yamadwitheya.
Just as Yamaraj and his sister Yami met on that auspicious day, even today brothers, visit their sister on the ‘Dwithiya Day’ and have a meal with her. The custom is called ‘Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam’, which means ‘Having meal with the sister’. It is a ritual to worship Lord Yama and his record keeper, Chithragupta on this day. Many people consider it important to take a bath in the river Yamuna on this festival. Early in the morning, after taking bath and offering prayer to God, sisters perform arti of their brothers. They apply red teeka made of sindoor, chandan and kesar and give them a sweet to eat. While performing these rituals sisters also pray for their brothers long, healthy and prosperous life. Brothers in turn bless their sisters and as a token of love present them with gifts or some cash.
Yamadwitheya of Bhai Dooj is quite a popular festival amongst Hindus in India. With full gusto, the festival is celebrated. Brothers and sisters have a get together on Yamadwitheya and strengthen their relationship, sharing childhood memories of togetherness. Gifts are exchanged as a token of love. In a complete harmonious environment, the best of festive food is relished.