Kaal Bhairav is the presiding deity of the holy town of Ujjain in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. One might think he is just another Hindu god but wait till you find out his secret. This god guzzles down alcohol like any drunkard on a Friday night at the bar! And that too, quite literally! Logic and reasoning have given up, but devotees are convinced beyond doubt that the statue of the god at this temple actually swallows the liquor which is given as offering.
ABOUT THE LORD
Kaal Bhairav in an extreme and fierce manifestation of the Hindu God of destruction, Lord Shiva. He is associated with annihilation and his representation reflects the powers he possesses. Wild unkempt hair and big blaring eyes peeping into your very soul with a garland of skulls adorning his neck. This god demands attention and fear. Kaal Bhairav is associated with occult practices. In India, the god is worshiped by the Aghoris. The Aghoris are a small group of nudist ascetics whose ways of life might bewilder the normal. They can be seen living in and around graveyards/cremation rounds wearing ashes of cremated bodies on their forehead, and jewelry made out of human skeletal remains.
There are a lot of Bhairava temples around India, but the Kaal Bhairav Temple of Ujjain stands out. Located on the banks of river Shipra, the temple enjoys constant attention from its millions of devotees. It remains swamped by visitors throughout the year.
GOD DRINKS ALCOHOL
If you happen to visit India, do stop by this unique temple. The black stoned Kaal Bhairav temple is located right in the middle of a Hindu cremation ground. As you enter the alleyway leading up to the temple, you are greeted by small stalls selling items which will serve as your offering for the god. If you look closer, you will find liquor bottles of all shapes and sizes. Though Kaal Bhairav is not very brand conscious when it comes to choosing his drink, people buy all kinds of liquor like local brands, Old Monk, Jack Daniels, etc.
On any given day, the temple is overcrowded. If you somehow manage to find your way into the inner sanctum of the temple where the god resides, you will not be disappointed. The statue of Kaal Bhairav looks nothing like other Hindu gods you might have seen. It is bright orange in color with a forehead smeared in gold leaves. The god has bold and black eyebrows. Out of all his features, it is his eyes that stand out. The statue has two holes carved into the body and you can see the lord’s eyes peering from the cavity. There is something so unsettling and unnerving about his eyes. It seems as if his glance follows you around and can delve deep into your soul. The statue invokes fear and demands absolute respect.
Kaal Bhairav’s statue also has a human like mouth with a full set of lips. When devotees come up to the statue with their bottle of liquor as offering, the head priest pours some of the liquor out into a stainless-steel dish. He then, ever so slightly tilts the dish near the god’s mouth. And right before your eyes, the liquor is gone! Drunk by the lord. If you do not believe me, here is a video to help you pick up your jaws from the floor.
Legend has it that the statue is not hollow and there is no secret cavity inside the statue where the liquor is stored. The head priest argues that there is no slit in the mouth of the statue too. It is believed that extensive research and excavation have been carried out before, to unearth any tunnel or source where the alcohol might run-off to, but nothing has ever been found.
The temple remains an enigma. To the believers, their god drinks alcohol just like he always has for hundreds of years. For non-believers, there might be a run-off or secret hidden in plain sight. But whether you’re a believer or an atheist, you will agree with one thing. Kaal Bhairav radiates dominance and demands faith. Believe in him and he will move mountains for you.