Kalabhairava Ashtami, or Mahakal Bhairav Ashtami, is one of the highly auspicious days dedicated to Lord Kalabhairava – a manifestation of Lord Shiva. Kalabhairava Ashtami 2016 date is November 21. It is believed that Kalabhairava appeared on this day.
Kalabhairava is the God of Time – Kal means ‘time’ and ‘Bhairava’ the manifestation of Shiva.
The Ashtami, the eighth day, during the Krishna Paksha (waning phase of moon) in the month of Margasheersh is considered the ideal day to propitiate Kala Bhairav. The corresponding period in other calendars is the Kartik Krishna Paksha.
It must be noted that Kalabhairava Ashtami is observed on the eighth day after full moon on all months by Shiva devotees. The one observed in Margasheersh month is the most auspicious one.
Legend has it that it Lord Shiva in the form of Kalabhairava chopped off the fifth head of Brahma and performed penance on this day.
There are several legends regarding the reason for chopping of the fifth head of Brahma. Once legend has it that the Trimurti – Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva once had an argument over who is the most powerful. During the argument, Brahma uttered a remark which enraged Shiva. Suddenly, he produced Bhairava from his body and ordered to chop the head of Brahma.
This terrified the demigods (Devas) and humans and this form of Shiva is believed to punish sinners and he carries a ‘Danda’ – a rod to punish.
Kal Bhairava’s vehicle is a black dog and in some places dogs are fed on the day.
Shiva devotees take morning bath and perform pujas. Special pujas are also offered to dead ancestors in the morning.
Staunch devotees keep vigil at night and narrate stories of Mahakaleshwar.