A ritual involving brother and sister, Bhai Phota is observed by Bengalies that is almost similar to the north Indian Bhai Dhooj. However, sometimes due to specific timings according to Hindu calendar, Bhai Phota may be celebrated on the third day of the month of Kartik, instead of the second. On Bhai Phota sisters apply tilak to brother's foreheads with mantras for long and happy life.
On the day of Bhai Phota, both brothers and sisters are decked in finery. Sisters apply a sandalwood paste ' tilak' or mask known as Phota on the forehead of their brothers, place some paddy grass known as "Dub" or "Dubya" on their heads and chant a verse for the siblings long life. Then they place a sweet in the brother's mouth. Of course, the ceremony is rounded off with a grand meal and the exchange of gifts. The merriment of Bhai Phota is increased amid the resounding of conch shells in every Bengali household.
Bhaubeej / Bhav-Bij
In Maharashtra and Goa, the festival of Bhaubeej or Bhav-Bij is very popular. The essence of this festival is similar to that of Raksha Bandhan except that the reasoning behind it is different. On this day the sister worships her brother with a Arati. The brother stands for Krishna who did the noble deed of killing the demon Narkasura.
A special square shaped space is created on the floor, lined with various designs in corn powder, to worship the brother. Before stepping into this square shaped puja place, the brother taste a particular bitter fruit ( Karith in marathi ) which Krishna is said to have tasted before setting out for the kill.
On Bahu beej, every brother visits his sister who performs aukshan, wishes him a long & healthy life and offers him sweets with warmth. Brother in exchange offers a present as a token of love & affection. The sister asks the Lord for the well-being of her brother, who is her Protector. Those who do not have a brother perform a sort of puja to the Moon-God. The Bhau-beej puja is performed in any case. Basundi-poori or shrikhand poori is the special sweet prepared for the occasion.
Yamadwitheya / Bhathru Dwithiya
In many parts of India, the fifth day of the Diwali festival is called as Yama Dwitheya that celebrates the unique relationship shared by a brother and his sister. On this day brothers treated to lavish feasts by their sisters. On this day, the sisters worship berry trees and wish welfare for their brothers, offer them sweets and apply tilak on their forehead. The brothers visit their sisters and thousands of brothers and sisters join hands and have a sacred bath in the river Yamuna.
According to legend it was on this day that the Yamuna river and her brother Yama were re-united after a long period of separation. Yama Raja (Dharam Raja) and Yamuna (Children of God Surya) are worshiped on this auspicious day. It was on this day the Yama raja visited his sister Yamuna of Gokul. The brother, who after bath in Yamuna or some other sacred river, visits her sister, no longer gets terror stricken by the thought of Yama Raja, the God of death.
This day symbolizes the society's respect for all women. The day gives every man the noble outlook to consider every woman as mother or sister. People also pray to the almighty Lord to grant the strength and wisdom to continue to follow path of truth and ask Him to enlighten the lives.
Gummatapura is a tiny village situated in the Karnataka-Tamil Nadu border, where Gorehabba is celebrated a day after Balipadyami. Gorehabba is celebrated by splashing cow dung on each other. Before the villagers start playing with the cow dung, there are a few interesting rituals which are followed.
Starting early morning, men, women and children begin collecting cow dung from all over the village and dump it in a place designated for it, behind the Beerappa temple. Later, half naked children go all around the village collecting oil and butter for offering pooja at the temple. After the required oil and butter are collected, they offer pooja at the Karappa temple which is about one km away from the Beerappa temple. Once the pooja is done, the villagers come back in a procession. On the way back, one person is designated as a Chadikora (sneak). He is then fixed with a mustache and beard made of grass, seated on a donkey and brought to the temple in a procession.
After reaching the temple, the Chadikora's mustache and beard are removed and buried in the pit where the heap of dung has been deposited. Pooja is offered to the heap of cow dung and then starts the fun! Immediately after the pooja is offered, a handful of cow dung is splashed on the priest which is the green signal for the others. Every single person in the village is pushed into the pit and smeared with cow dung. Thousands of people from the nearby villages gather to watch the game.
Later, an effigy of the Chadikora is made and taken to the Kondigekara Gudda (a hillock nearby) to be burnt. A chicken too is burnt along with the effigy. The villagers clean themselves in the lake, come back to the village and abuse the Chadikora. It is also believed that participating in the cow dung splashing game cures people of all kinds of disease, which is one of the reasons for keeping the tradition alive, even after hundreds of years.
A day dedicated to the pious relationship shared between a brother and his lovely sister, Bhatri Ditya is a special festive occasion for a family. It is a day when a sister expresses her love and pray for the well being of her brother. On this day, all sisters and brothers in a Hindu household commit to protect each other and maintain this special relationship for rest of their life.
Bhatri Ditya is celebrated by sisters wishing a long life for the brothers and placed Tika on Brothers' forehead signifying placement of a barrier against any undesirable occurrences. Observed in Kartik on Shukl Ditya, the festival of Bhatri Ditya, aims to establish and maintain mutual love between the brother and the sister. On this day, the sisters worship berry trees and wish welfare for their brothers.
Bhatri Ditya being being the last day of Diwali celebration, Hindus observe this day with full zest and spirit. Except in Bihar, where Chath festival is still to be celebrated, for many, this is the last major festival. Thus, the festive mood of Bhatri Ditya fills the air with great excitement, joy and happiness.
On the last day of Diwali festival, known as Bhathru Dwitheya, it is customary for the brothers to go their sisters' house and have food there. This particular custom is named Bhagini Hastha Bhojanam (meals). It is being followed by people in the name of 'Yama' who went to his sister's place to have food. Yama and his record keeper Chithraguptha are worshiped on this day.
Apart from the legend of Yama, other equally significant legends are Lord Krishna and Lord Mahavir. It is said that after Lord Krishna killed the demon Narakasur, he visited his sister Subhadra on dooj day. She gave him a traditional, affectionate welcome by anointing him with tilak. After Mahavir attained nirvana, his brother, Raja Nandivardhan, felt depressed and dejected due to his long absence. He was comforted by Sudarshana, his sister.
With such important events related to this unique festival, Bhathru Dwithiya is completely dedicated to the caring spirit of sisters. The sisters apply a tilak of roli (vermilion), kesar (saffron) and rice on their brother's forehead as a mark of their love and protection. With this the Deepavali festivities comes to an end.