As soon as the festival of Diwali is over, the aura of jubilation and celebration do not fade away. Festivals like Bhai Duj keeps it alive. Bhaidooj festival is celebrated to mark the bonding between a brother and sister. The ritual starts from early morning. Usually, on this day, the brother visits her sister's home if she is married and have a meal with her. In Sanskrit, this is explained as "Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam". This means "having a meal with sister". At some places brothers and sisters also take a dip in the holy waters of river Yamuna. There are certain communities in India which follow the custom of worshipping Chitragupta - the mythical record keeper of Lord Yamaraj. .
After invoking the blessings of family deity, sisters apply sacred red tilak on brother's head and place some rice grains on the tilak. By rotating the Puja Thali in circles around brother, she performs arti of her brother. She prays to almighty for his longevity and happiness. After this, she puts a sweet in brother's mouth. While performing the ceremony, she also utters the following mantra:
'Bhratus tabaa grajaataaham, Bhunksa bhaktamidam shuvam Preetaye yama raajasya, Yamunaah Visheshatah.'
This means: "I'm your sister, Eat this sacred rice, For the pleasure of 'Yam Raj' and 'Yamuna'."In Bengali, the same shlok is uttered as
"Bhaier kapale dilam phonta, Jamer Duare porlo kanta, Jamuna Dae Jomke phonta, Ami di amar bhaike phonta, Bhai jeno hoy lohar vata."
This means: "I put a "phota" on my brother's fore-head, to make my brother immortal. "Yamuna" gives a "phota" to "Yam", I give a "phota" to my brother. Let my brother become tough as iron."
In return of the tilak, the brothers bless their sisters and promise to protect them from all problems in life. If the brother is younger he seeks blessings from his sister. Gifts are exchanged on this day. Both brother and sister indulge each other with loads of gifts ranging from sweets, dry fruits and chocolates to apparel, jewelry and many more.
The rituals in Bhaidooj symbolises a beautiful aspect of the eternal bond of affection and love between brother and sister in Indian culture. This festival marks the strong familial ties existing between the family members.