Primarily observed in the northern states of India, Bhai dooj is a festival celebrated as a part of the five-day long Diwali celebrations. Bhai, means brother, while 'Dooj' means 'second', thus Bhai Dooj is an affirmation of a sister's protection of her brother's well being.
Bhai Dooj or Bhau Beej as it is known, is the fifth day of the Diwali festival, which falls on a new moon night, in Kartik month of Hindu calendar. This festival is celebrated after two days of Diwali.
Bhai Dooj is celebrated to substantiate and rejuvenate the bond of love between brothers and sisters. It is said that the brother who eats with his sister's hand on this occasion is blessed with a long and fruitful life.
There are various names of this festival. Known by the name of bhai-dooj in the Hindi-speaking belt, it is called "Bhav-Bij" in the Marathi speaking communities and in Nepal, people know this festival by the name of "Bhai-Tika".
This festival is ceremonized by sisters offering prayers and good wishes to their brothers. Sisters consolidate their love by putting an auspicious tilak or a vermilion spot on the forehead of their brothers and perform an aarti of him by showing him the light of the holy flame as a mark of love and protection from evil forces. In turn brother give Bhai Dooj gifts to their sisters expressing their love.
As per the legend behind Bhai dooj, Yamraj, the Lord of Death, visited his sister Yami on this day. She welcomed him warmly by applying a tilak on his forehead. The idea is that anyone who receives a tilak from his sister on this day is saved the agony of hell-fire. Sisters prepare sumptuous, mouth-watering meals for brothers on this special day.