By: Manmeet Kaur Tura

Kalashtami which is also known as Kala Ashtami is observed every month during the Ashtami Tithi of Krishna Paksha or the Hindu Lunar month. This is a special time for the devotees of Lord Bhairav. On all the Kalashtmi days of the year, the devotees of Lord Bhairav worship him. While the Ashtami Tithi (8th day) after Poornima (full moon) is considered to be most suitable day to propitiate Lord Kaal Bhairav. 

The word ‘kaal’ in Hindi means ‘time’ while ‘Bhairav’ means ‘the manifestation of Shiva’. Hence Kaal Bhairav is also called as the ‘God of Time’ and is worshipped with complete devotion by the followers. According to mythology once during an argument between Brahma, Vishnu and Mahesh, Lord Shiva got enraged by a remark passed by Brahma. He then transformed into ‘Mahakaleshwar’ and chopped the 5th head of Lord Brahma. From that day onwards, Devas and Humans worship this incarnation of Lord Shiva as ‘Kaal Bhairav’. It is a popular belief that worshipping Lord Bhairav on this day removes all the miseries, pain and negative influences from one’s life.

According to the North India Purnima to Purnima Lunar month calendar, the Kalabhairav Jayanti which is the most significant Kalashtami falls in the month of Margashirsha while Kalabhairav Jayanti falls in the month of Kartik in South Indian Amavasya to Amavasya Lunar month calendar. What is unique is that both the calendars observe the Kalbhairav Jayanti on the same day. It is believed that Lord Shiva incarnated in the form of Lord Bhairav on this day.

Kalbhairav Jayanti is also known as Bhairav Ashtami.

There are a total of 12 Kalashtami days in a year. The 2018 chart for the days of Kalashtami is-

  • 8 January (Monday)- Kalashtami
  • 7 February (Wednesday)- Kalashtami
  • 9 March (Friday)- Kalashtami
  • 8 April (Sunday)- Kalashtami
  • 7 May (Monday)- Kalashtami
  • 6 June (Wednesday)- Kalashtami
  • 6 July (Friday)- Kalashtami
  • 4 August (Saturday)- Kalashtami
  • 2 September (Sunday)- Kalashtami
  • 2 October (Tuesday)- Kalashtami
  • 31 October (Wednesday)- Kalashtami
  • 29 November (Thursday)- Kalabhairav Jayanti
  • 29 December (Saturday)- Kalashtami

The Kalashtami fasting is observed on Saptami Tithi. According to the Vedas Vratraj Kalashtmi fasting should be observed on the day when Ashtami Tithi prevails during night. At the same time the DrikPanchang makes sure that Ashtami should prevail at least for one Ghati after Pradosh while selecting fasting day for Kalashtami. Else the Kalashtami day is moved to previous day when it is more likely that the Ashtami Tithi will prevail during the night.


On this day the devotees of Lord Shiva or Lord Bhairav get up before sunrise and take an early bath. They perform a special puja of Kaal Bhairav to seek his heavenly blessings and also seek forgiveness for their sins. Devotees also visit Lord Kaal Bhairav’s temple in the evening to offer special prayers there.

On Kalashtami, as discussed special rituals are followed in the memory of our ancestors. Devotees keep fast all day long. Some staunch devotees keep vigil all night and indulge themselves in listening to the mythological stories of Mahakaleshwar. The observer of the Kalashtami Vrat is blessed with prosperity and happiness and it is believed those who practice it, obtain success in their life.

It is considered positive to recite Kaal Bhairav Katha and chant mantras dedicated to Lord Shiva.

It is a ritual to feed dogs on Kalashtami, as a black dog is considered to be the vehicle of Lord Bhairav. Dogs are offered milk, curd and sweets.

People specially go to Kashi to offer prayers and to offer food to the Brahmins there. It is considered that this Holy place brings positivity in the lives of the people.