Masik Kalashtami or Masik Kala Ashtami is a holy monthly daylong Hindu event. Masik means monthly. Kala refers to Lord Kaal Bhairav. Kaal means time. The Sanskrit word ‘Bhay’ means fear. The Sanskrit word Bhiru means fearful or frightening. Ashtami is the 8th lunar day of the moon phase. Masik Kalashtami is observed in India, Nepal, and parts of Sri Lanka.
Masik Kalashtami is observed on a day every month, on the 8th day, Tithi, in the Krishna Paksha phase of the moon in the fortnight. Krishna Paksha is the waning-decreasing phase of the moon in the month’s fortnight. However, the main Masik Kalashtami called KalaBhairav Jayanti is observed in the Hindu calendar month of Margashirsha.
Lord Kaal Bhairav refers to Lord Shiva. Lord Kaal Bhairav is regarded as the God of Time, and Protector. Lord Shiva is one of the top three deities in Hinduism, along with Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu. Lord Kaal Bhairav is the fierce, fearsome, aggressive or destructive form, avatar or incarnation of Lord Shiva.
On the day of Masik Kalashtami, many devotees, especially those of Lord Shiva, observe a daylong Vrat, fast. They wake up as early as before dawn and bathe. The fast is broken only at night after the prayers. Many devotees feed dogs, especially the black colored ones. A dog is often seen in many pictures of Lord Bhairav and one the Lord rode on a dog. Devotees mark the fast in dedication, devotion and to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva for protection, happiness, peace etc.
Lord Kaal Bhairav is believed to protect all, and in a legend, also guards the temples of Lord Shiva. He also once protected the holy ancient city of Varanasi, also called Banaras and Kashi. Lord Kaal Bhairav keeps the poison and evil away, and kills it; in fact, Lord Kaal Bhairav has a blue throat that is said to swallow all poison.
A Mantra for Lord Shiva is—
Om Namah Shivaya
ॐ नमः शिवाय
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