Bhishma Ashtami

Bhishma Ashtami (Bhishmashtami) is a Hindu festival dedicated to Bhishma of the great Indian epic Mahabharata. It is believed that Bhishma, also known as 'Ganga Putra Bhishma' (Bhishma son of Ganga devi) or 'Bhishma Pitamaha' (Bhishma the grandfather), departed from his body on this chosen day. This occurred during the propitious 'Uttarayan period'; that is, the daytime of devas. Bhishma Ashtami is observed during the month of Magha in the Hindu calendar. It corresponds to the months of January–February.[1]


Bhishma Ashtami is a minor holiday observed in Bengal and parts of southern India in remembrance of Bhishma, a warrior who fought and died in the Kurukshetra War, the battle which fills so many pages of the Mahabharata. Bhishma was the son of Shantanu, who had given his son a boon in that he would be allowed to choose his own day of death. Bhishma had taken an oath not to marry and that he would ever remain faithful to his father's throne.[2][3]

The anniversary of Bhishma Pitamah's death is observed during Magha Shukla Ashtami[clarification needed]. The day is known as Bhishma Ashtami and indisputably the death anniversary of Bhishma Pitamah. According to the legend associated with the day, Bhishma waited for 58 days before leaving his body. Bhishma Pitamah left his body on the auspicious day of Uttarayana, i.e. on the day when the Lord Surya started moving towards Northward after completing six-month period of Dakshiyana.[4]

This is the day Bhishma decided to leave his body. The day Bhishma left his body known as Bhishma Ashtami (Magha Shukla Ashtami). He has special boon of death as per his will (Ichha Mrityu) from his father. Hence, despite lying on a bed of arrows he continued in that position and then left his body on Sankranti. Hindus believe that the one who dies during Uttarayana goes to heaven.[5]

Bhishma Ashtami Festival Dates Between 2017 & 2024Edit

Year Date (IST) Date (EDT)
2017 Saturday, 4 February Saturday, 4 February
2018 Thursday, 25 January Thursday, 25 January
2019 Wednesday, 13 February Tuesday, 12 February
2020 Sunday, 2 February Saturday, 1 February
2021 Saturday, 20 February Friday, 19 February
2022 Tuesday, 8 February Wednesday, 7 February
2023 Saturday, 28 January Friday, 27 January
2024 Friday, 16 February Thursday, 15 February

Steps to Follow the Performance of 'Bhishma Ashtami Pujan'Edit

  • People observe the ritual of ‘Ekodishta Shraddha’ in the honor of Bhishma. According to the belief, only those devotees whose fathers are not alive anymore can perform this ritual. However, some communities do not follow this and believe that anyone can perform the ‘pooja’.
  • People visit the nearby river banks and do the ‘Tarpan’ ritual in order to bring peace to Bhishma Pitamah's soul. They also honor their ancestors through the same ritual.
  • People take holy dips in the Ganga river and offer boiled rice and sesame seeds in order to come out of the cycle of life and death and purify their souls.
  • Devotees observe fast during the day and perform ‘Arghyam’ and chant ‘Bhishma Ashtami mantra’ to seek the deity's blessings.[6]


  1. ^ "Bhisma Ashtami 2018 date – Importance of Bhisma Ashtami Snan - Tarpan - Vrat". Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  2. ^ Melton, J. Gordon (2011-09-13). Religious Celebrations: An Encyclopedia of Holidays, Festivals, Solemn Observances, and Spiritual Commemorations. ABC-CLIO. pp. 113–114. ISBN 9781598842050.
  3. ^ "Bhisma Ashtami 2018 date – Importance of Bhisma Ashtami Snan - Tarpan - Vrat". Retrieved 2017-04-23.
  4. ^ LLP, Adarsh Mobile Applications. "Death Anniversary of Bhishma Pitamah | Death Chronology of Bhishma Pitamah". Retrieved 2017-04-26.
  5. ^ Tumuluru, Kamal Kumar (2015-04-23). Hindu Prayers, Gods and Festivals. Partridge Publishing. ISBN 9781482847079.
  6. ^ "Bhishma Ashtami rituals in India -". Retrieved 2017-04-24.