Liquor Offering at Kal Bhairav Temple - Gastro Obscura
Join us on an Atlas Obscura Trip in 2019 »

Ritual & Medicinal

Liquor Offering at Kal Bhairav Temple

Devotees bring bottles of booze to a deity in Ujjain.

Every day, devotees line up at the steps of the Kal Bhairav temple in Ujjain, India, with liquor bottles in hand. Although it might seem disrespectful to arrive at a place of worship with alcohol, it’s quite the opposite at this Hindu temple. The liquor is actually an offering.

The recipient of this boozy bounty is Bhairav, a manifestation of Shiva. Inside the temple, Bhairav’s statue is a vibrant shade of red and decorated with flowers. A priest sits before the statue, pouring a little bit of each visitor’s bottle into a saucer. When it’s filled, he says a prayer and tips the liquid into a small slit in the idol’s mouth. 

While there’s no official figure on how much alcohol Bhairav “drinks” daily, it’s estimated that visitors bring several hundred liters every day. Both government-sponsored and unlicensed vendors sell foreign brands and the local liquor known as desi daru. The small bottles often come in baskets that feature other offerings, including flowers and incense.

Where to Try It
Contributed by
k ketuasia
Add your photos
Be the first to share a photo of this item with our community.