Bhairav Ashtami, also known as Kaal Bhairav Jayanti, is a sacred Hindu festival dedicated to Lord Bhairava, a fierce incarnation of Lord Shiva. Celebrated on the eighth day (Ashtami) of the Hindu month of Kartik, this occasion marks the birth anniversary of Bhairava, the embodiment of Shiva’s wrath. Falling in the fortnight of the waning moon (Krishna Paksha), Bhairav Ashtami typically occurs in November, December, or January.
Origin of the Name Bhairav
The name Bhairav is derived from ‘Bhr,’ signifying one who sustains and nourishes the universe, and ‘rav,’ representing self-awareness. It also conveys Bhairav’s role as the patron of those fearing the cycle of suffering.
Legends Surrounding Bhairav
One popular legend from the Shiva Mahapurana recounts how Bhairav emerged to humble Lord Brahma’s arrogance. Another tale narrates the creation of Bhairav from the wrath of Goddess Kali after slaying the demon Dahurasuran. Additionally, the story of Bhairav beheading Raja Daksha in response to his insult to Lord Shiva is widely known.
Celebrations and Rituals
Devotees observe Bhairav Ashtami with rituals such as an all-night vigil (Jagaran), prayers, and storytelling. A significant aspect of the celebration involves offering oblations to deceased ancestors and observing a day-long fast for divine grace and the absolution of sins.
Bhairav, along with Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is worshipped with sweet offerings and flowers. Devotees also show respect to dogs, as Bhairav’s divine vehicle is a dog. In temples like the one in Ujjain, symbolic offerings, including liquor, are made as part of tantric rituals.
Significance of Kaal Bhairav Mandir
The Kaal Bhairav Mandir in Varanasi, revered as the ‘Kotwal of Kashi,’ celebrates Bhairav Ashtami with grandeur. The Deity idol is revealed and adorned with garlands, attracting numerous devotees. Similar celebrations take place in various Jyotirlinga temples across India.
What to Do on Kalashtami
Devotees take an early morning bath, offer prayers to Lord Shiva, and perform a special puja dedicated to Kaal Bhairav. Evening visits to Lord Kala Bhairava’s temple for forgiveness are common. Fasting, staying awake for night vigils, and reciting the Kaal Bhairav Katha are practices to seek divine blessings.
Kalashtami Pooja Vidhi
Pooja rituals include Kalash Sthapana, Panchang Sthapana, yogini Pujan, Shetrapal Pujan, Ganesh Pujan, Abhishek, Navgraha Pujan, mantra chanting, and Homa. Devotees also feed dogs and offer alms to Brahmins in auspicious places like Kashi and Nasik.
Embrace the divine energy of Kaal Bhairav Jayanti by following these rituals and celebrating the auspicious occasion with reverence and devotion.