Charm of deusi-bhailo


Deusi and bhailo are an integral part of Tihar. Groups of people go singing door to door. Bhailo is played by the women folk, while men — young and old — take part in deusi.

Such carolling groups are usually offered flowers, fruits, sel roti, money. All these articles are given as bheti (offerings) and kept on a diya-lit thali or nanglo. There is a common belief that if the deusi-bhailo groups become happy, then goddess of wealth Laxmi, will also become happy.

But why do people play deusi-bhailo?

Legend has it that Treta Yuga king Bali, known for generosity as written in Baman Puran, would eagerly give whatever one asked for. His popularity was soaring higher day by day. It was most likely that people would forget god one day, and revere him instead.

But as fate would have it, he was not meant to acquire such power to rule over people because of his lineage to Danab. Hiranya Kasyap, the self-proclaimed god, was his great-grandfather. There was fear that Bali would turn into a Danab or demon after acquiring unlimited power after performing a yagya. Lord Bishnu decided to avert this possible danger. He disguised himself as a young Bramhan, and went to the yagya mandap, where the ritual was being observed. He asked for a space of three paces.

King Bali granted his wish. The Brahman covered the earth’s space in a matter of two steps and asked for Bali’s head to step on as the third step. The word deusire — the refrain during deusi — was thus derived from deu seer ‘give your head’.

Bali was sent to Patal or the dungeon to live for ever after. However, he was given five days’ stay on the land during Yam Panchak. His followers rejoice the time he returns to earth and go singing ‘Hami tesai aayeka hoinau, Balirajale pathayeka (We are sent by King Bali).

The message of Bali’s arrival on earth is told to the people through deusi-bhailo. It is also believed that Yama visits the earth during this time. On the last day of Yam Panchak, sisters offer their brothers tika and mala (garland) to protect them from death. Thus, Baman and Yama are worshipped during Yama Panchak. God’s disguise of Bramhan boy is considered as Baman Awatar, the fifth incarnation of lord Bishnu.

Rooted in religion and culture, deusi-bhailo brings happy tidings. Let us enjoy this Tihar in the true spirit of the season.

Popular belief:

There is another popular (maybe very recent) belief as to why boys (and men) go around playing deusi. The last day of Tihar is bhai-tika, when sisters put tika on their brothers. After the puja and tika is over, the brothers have to offer their sisters money or some gift. Therefore, it is said the boys go around playing deusi in order to collect enough money to be able to offer cash or buy some gift for their sisters.