Kalabhairav Jayanti is also known as Kala-Bhairava Ashtami or Bhairav Ashtami. The Kalabhairav Jayanti falls on the ashtami of the Krishna paksha in the month of Kartik as per traditional Hindu calendar.
According to the Gregorian calendar, it falls on the dark phase of the moon in the month of November December. It is the auspicious day on which the birth of Lord Kal BHairava is commemorated.
Kala Bhairava is the manifestation of Lord Shiva, and is a fierce manifestation. He is the vengeful, fearful and wrathful manifestation of Lord Shiva. In 2019, the Kalabhairav Jayanti will be observed on the 19th of November, Tuesday.
- Legend of Kalabhairav
The legend behind Kalabhairav stems from the time when the three Gods or the Trimurti sat discussing who was the most powerful of them all. Amidst the heated debate, Lord Shiva felt insulted and asked Bhairav to sever the head of Lord Brahma. Lord Brahma’s fifth head was severed by Bhairav whilst all the Gods trembled in anticipation and prayed to Lord Shiva and Bhairav to calm down. Thus Bhairav committed the grave sin of Brahma hatya or killing of a Brahmin.
In another version, it is told that when Brahma insulted Shiva, Kalabhairav emanated from the angry Shiva’s forehead and severed Brahma’s fifth head. But the head of Brahma kept stuck to Kalabhairav’s hand due to the killing of the most learned Brahmin. Bhairav then had to observe the vrat of Kapali, where he had to wander all over the world as a naked beggar with the skull of the murdered which acted as his begging bowl. In Varanasi, Bhairav could finally expiate himself of his sins. There is a temple dedicated to Kalabhairav in Varanasi.
- Benefits of Kalabhairav Jayanti
Bhairava Ashtrami is considered more auspicious if the day falls on a Sunday or a Tuesday, considered sacred for the worshipping of Bhairava. Kalabhairav is in particular worshipped for health, wealth, and success and obstacle removal from one’s path. It is believed that a devotee gets rid of the fear of death and also expiates himself of all other sins by observing Kalabhairav Jayanti.
- Rituals of observing Kalabhairav Jayanti
Devotees stay awake the whole night chanting prayer S, worshipping and listening to the tales of Bhairava along with Parvati and Shiva. An arati of Bhairava is held in the stroke of the mid night amidst blowing conches and ringing of bells and drums. In the morning, the Shaivaites in particular take a ritualistic cleansing bath and offer oblations to their dead ancestors. After this Bhairava, Bhirava’s pet, a dog, Shiva and Parvati are worshipped with garlands and flowers. Sweets, milk, curd and other food is given as offerings to them. Dogs are fed on this day as they are the vahanas or pets of Bhairav.
- Celebration of Kalabhairav Jayanti
In the Bhairav Prasad Temple in Vaishno Devi, the Kalabhairav Jayanti is celebrated amidst much splendor and devotion. For worshipping on this day, an image of Kala Bhairav is made of gold and silver. It is then immersed in a brass pot filled with water. Mantras are chanted and scriptural prayers are offered to Lord Shiva. The priests are later given dans or gifts in charity.
In Varanasi an eight day pilgrimage constituting of the darshan of the eight temples or the Ashta Bhairava templ is undertaken by the devotee, before the Kalabhairav ashtami. Bhairav is the guardian deity of the city of Varanashi. On this day the cloth covering his body is taken away. The cloth keeps Bhairava’s body covered for the entire year. The deity is beautified with flowers and garlands. A garland comprising of silver skulls adorns the image of Kalbhirav on this day. Lot of devotees come from afar to view this unique image. Lot of musical and cultural events too are held.