'Bhasma Aarti': Most significant ritual at Ujjain's Mahakaleshwar Temple

08:28 PM Mar 25, 2024 | PTI |

Indore: When fire broke out on Monday in the sanctum sanctorum of Ujjain’s renowned Mahakaleshwar Temple, the rituals of playing Holi with the deity were being performed during ‘Bhasma Aarti’, an early morning sacred ceremony involving ashes that carries great religious significance among Lord Shiva devotees across the world.


Fourteen priests, including ‘sevaks’ (assistants), were injured in the fire in the Mahakal Temple, one of 12 sacred jyotirlinga shrines of Lord Shiva, in Madhya Pradesh’s Ujjain city.

According to eyewitnesses, the incident occurred at around 05:50 am when the daily ritual of ‘Bhasma Aarti’ involving sacred ashes was nearing its end in the sanctum sanctorum.

‘Bhasma Aarti’ carries a great religious significance and devotees from all over the country and the world reach Ujjain to witness it.

The unwavering faith of Lord Shiva devotees towards ‘Bhasma Aarti’ can be gauged from the fact that the hall in front of the sanctum sanctorum in the temple gets crowded well before the start of this ritual.


A large number of devotees make online booking for this prominent religious ritual.

Though ‘Bhasma Aarti’ starts at 4 am, devotees queue up for entry from 1 am onwards to have a better view of Lord Mahakaleshwar during this ritual by sitting in the hall in front of the sanctum sanctorum. No devotee is allowed inside the sanctum sanctorum during this ritual.

‘Bhasma Aarti’, as the name suggests, is performed by offering ‘Bhasma’ or ashes to the deity.

According to mythological beliefs, Lord Shiva is also considered as the ”Shamshan Ke Sadhak” (seeker of cremation ground) and ashes have been called his ”Shringar” (decoration). The ashes with which Mahakaleshwar Aarti is performed is prepared by burning cow dung cakes.

According to some legends, the ashes used for the ‘Bhasma Aarti’ years ago used to be brought from the crematorium. However, current priests of the temple reject this theory.

Lord Mahakaleshwar is worshiped and adorned amidst the chanting of Vedic mantras during ‘Bhasma Aarti’, which lasts for about two hours.

The ashes are offered to Lord Shiva and his aarti is sung at the end of this elaborate ritual. The atmosphere becomes very devotional during the ritual due to the sounds of bells, gongs and the collective singing of aarti by devotees and priests immersed in the devotion of Lord Shiva.


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