Kalashtami aka Kala Ashtami is a festival dedicated to Lord Bhairava, a fierce form of Lord Shiva associated with destruction. He punishes the sinners appropriately and protects the surrendered devotees. Kala Ashtami is observed every month during Ashtami Tithi of Krishna Paksha as per the Hindu calendar. On this day, people observe fast and offer prayers to Lord Bhairava. Interestingly, the most significant Kalashtami, Kalabhairav Jayanti, is celebrated in North India in the month of Margashirsha (Dec-Jan) whereas the South Indians celebrate it in the month of Kartik (Nov-Dec). However, it is to be noted that both calendars celebrate Kalabhairav Jayanti on the same day. Devotees of Shiva maintain that that Lord Shiva appeared in the form of Bhairava on this very day.
‘Ashta’ means ‘eight’ and ‘Ashtami’ means ‘eighth’. Thus Ashtami, the eighth day after the Full Moon day is highly auspicious to worship Lord Bhairava. There are twelve Kalashtamis in a year. Of these, the one falling on a Sunday or Tuesday is best for the worship of Lord Bhairava.
It is said that Lord Shiva took the form of Kaal Bhairava to behead one of the five heads of Lord Brahma. The fifth head was full of arrogance that did not let Brahma focus on his tapasya and austerity. It is the mercy of Shiva who in the form of Bhairava liberated Brahma from the clutches of his fifth head. Since then, Lord Brahma has been singing the glories of the Four Vedas through his four mouths.
Devotees also observe fast throughout the day. Some also stay awake the whole night (jagran or night vigil), reading scriptures and listening to the mantras and stories of Lord Shiva.
It is the best time to recite the Kaal Bhairav Katha and chant mantras dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Devotees also feed dogs because Lord Bhairava has a black dog as His divine carrier.
It is the most auspicious day to feed Brahmins at places like Kashi and Nasik.
Benefits of Worshiping Lord Bhairava:
Puja of Kaal Bhairava includes Kalash Sthapana, Panchang Sthapana, 64 yogini Pujan, Shetrapal Pujan, Swasti Vachan, Sankalpa, Ganesh Pujan and Abhishek, Navgraha Pujan and 108 Japa of each planetary mantra, Invocation of major Gods and Goddesses in Kalash, Abhishek and Pujan of Bhairav Idol and Yantra, Bhairav Mantra Japa, Homa, Aarti and Pushpanjali.
Grace and blessings of Lord Bhairava
Protection against the negative energies, illness and diseases