Kalashtami is a beautiful festival celebrated by Hindus and is dedicated to Lord Bhairav. It is observed on the ‘Krishna Paksha Ashtami Tithi’ (8th day during the waning phase of the moon) of every Hindu lunar month. The 8th day after ‘Purnima’ known as the ‘Ashtami Tithi’ is regarded to be the best day to worship Lord Kaal Bhairav. On this day, the Hindu devotees keep a fast to please him and seek his blessings.
In total, there are 12 Kalashtami observances in a year. Out of these, the Kalashtami falling in the ‘Margashirsha’ month is most important and is referred to as ‘Kalabhairav Jayanti’. Kalashtami is also considered more pious and sacred when it falls on a Tuesday or Sunday since these days are dedicated to Lord Bhairav.
Significance of Kalashtami
The principal connotation of Kalashtami is mentioned in the Aditya Purana. Lord Kaal Bhairav, the main deity of Kalashtami is also known to be a manifestation of Lord Shiva. In Hindi, the word ‘kaal’ means ‘time’ and ‘Bhairav’ implies ‘the manifestation of Shiva’. Therefore, Lord Kaal Bhairav is also referred to as the ‘God of Time’. He is worshipped by the followers of Lord Shiva with full devotion.
As per Hindu Puranas, once there was a big argument between Lord Vishnu, Brahma and Maheshwara. Suddenly, Lord Shiva got enraged by a comment passed by Lord Brahma. So took the avatar of ‘Mahakaleshwar’ and chopped off Lord Brahma’s 5th head. Since then, Humans and Devas revere this incarnation of Lord Shiva as “Kaal Bhairav”. It is popularly believed that offering prayers to Lord Bhairav on the day of Kalashtami helps to eliminate all stress, pain and suffering from an individual’s life.
Sacred Thread, Diya, Ashes, Vermilion, Flower Garland, Bilva leaves (Bel-Patra), Cloves, Cardamom, Betel Leaf, Perfume, Sugar, Camphor, Rose Water, Ganga Jal, Honey, Incense Sticks, Ghee, Milk, Yogurt, Sweets, Fruits, Panch Meva, Vastra (clothing) for Lord Shiva
Kalashtami Puja Ritual-
Devotees wake up before sunrise and take an early bath on this day. Then, they conduct a special Kaal Bhairav Puja to get all their wishes granted by the Lord. After that, the devotees should visit the Kaal Bhairav temple in the evening to offer prayers. Kalashtami marks the birth of a fierce form of Lord Shiva who was born to bring an end to the rage and temper of Lord Brahma. On the Puja day, special rituals of worship are offered to dead ancestors during the morning.
Devotees should also maintain strict fasting for the entire day. Some ardent devotees even stay awake all night and pass their time by listening to stories and bhajans of Mahakaleshwar. The person observing the Mahakaleshwar Vrat is believed to get blessed with happiness, prosperity and success in career. It is considered auspicious to recite Kaal Bhairav Katha dedicated to Lord Shiva at the end of the Puja. There is also a custom to feed dogs on Kalashtami. This is because a black dog is considered to be the vehicle of Lord Bhairav. Dogs are offered milk, curd and sweets.
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Also read, Shani Puja- Benefits, Mantra and Puja Vidhi