Yamadwitheya is an extremely popular name for the festival of Bhai Dooj. The name comes from the strong association of the festival with Lord Yamaraj, the Hindu mythological God of Death. On this festival sisters apply sacred red tilak on brother's forehead and pray to Yama for their health and well being. The festival of Yamadwitheya falls on the fifth and the last day of the Diwali Festival. This corresponds to the 'Dooj' Day meaning the next day after the new moon. Thus, the festival of Yamadwitheya falls on the second day after Diwali or on the next day after Balipratipada festival.
Legend of Yamadwitheya
There is a popular legend related to Lord Yamaraj behind the festival of Yamadwitheya. The story goes that Yamaraj met his twin sister Yamuna on the 'Dooj' day after a long period of separation. Yami received her brother with affection and warmth. She applied sacred red tilak on the forehead of Yamraj, took arti of him and treated him with a sumptuous meal. Pleased to receive affection from Yami, Yama declared that anyone who receives tilak and meal from his sister on the auspicious day of Dooj will never be given a place in hell. Since then the tradition of celebrating Yamadwitheya is being dutifully carried out by brothers and sisters in India.
Rituals of Yamadwitheya
Following the traditions set by Yamaraj, brothers visit their sister on the 'Dwithiya' Day in the Hindu month of Kartik (October - November). Sisters lovingly apply the sacred red tika on brother's forehead as a mark of protection. She then performs arti of him and give him a sweet to eat. The sweet and simple ceremony is symbolic of sister's undying love for her brother and her sincere prayers to Lord Yamaraj for his long life and well being. After the ceremonies get over brother blesses his sister and promises to be on her side in times of happiness and sorrow. A brother is also culturally bound to present Yamadwitheya Gifts or some cash to her sister.
It is customary for brothers to have a meal prepared by sisters on Yamadwitheya day. The tradition is called 'Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam' in Sanskrit. This means 'having a meal prepared by sister'. Sisters affectionately make their brothers favourite meal on the day and pampers him with Yamadwitheya gifts. Besides people also consider it important to worship Lord Yamaraj and his mythical record keeper Chithragupta on this day. Some also take a holy dip in the sacred waters of river Yamuna on the day of Yamadwitheya.
Yamadwitheya is celebrated with gusto and enthusiasm by brothers and sisters in India. The day is celebrated as a family reunion day as siblings get to meet each other and share happy times. Continued euphoria of Diwali and exchange of gifts heightens the excitement for the day.