Having beliefs is a personal choice, but quite often religion and faith are intertwined with superstition. One mystical story of an alleged divine miracle comes from the city of Ujjain in Madhya Pradesh state of Central India.
The Kal Bhairav temple situated here is dedicated to the Bhairav, a local deity who’s also considered to be the guardian of the city itself. This temple is believed to have been built by a King named Bhadrasen centuries ago.
The Mystery of Kal Bhairav-
Among other offerings, devotees visiting the temple present the divine Bhairav with country liquor as an offering. It’s a common sight to see devotees thronging the temple with baskets-containing flowers, fruits, and liquor! However, the most unbelievable thing is that the deity is actually believed to accept the offerings. One can clearly observe this by paying a visit to the temple as a priest takes bottles of liquor from devotees, pours it into a saucer and offers to the statue of the deity. Strangely enough, the liquor does disappear after a while thus seemingly indicating that the lord has actually accepted the offering. Astonishing to say the least, this practice has been taking place here for centuries. Although initially, the temple was only open to holy-men (tantrics), it later became open to offerings by the general public.
Devotees who visit the temple believe it to be a true miracle and a sign of the presence of the manifestation of Shiva. The temple priests, however, act as guardians of the mystery and don’t allow people to inspect the statue or offer the offerings on their own. It is said that the deity only accepts the offerings from the hands of the head priest who recites certain mantras during the process.
Another story which is common folklore in these parts is that of a British official in pre-independent India, who after a failed experiment which involved digging up the temple to find the missing liquor, turned into a devout follower of the deity.
The mythological relevance-
Kal Bhairav is considered to be the most important of the nine Bhairavs who are the manifestations of Lord Shiva himself. According to Hindu mythology, Bhairav is supposed to be a ‘fearful form’ of Shiva and one that is associated with annihilation.
Miracle or religious sorcery?
Among the many devotees who visit the temple on a daily basis are some who accept a part of the liquor as prasad (offertory). For them, this serves twin purposes: of fulfilling devotion as well as the opportunity to down a drink. There are government authorized liquor vends right outside the temple that sell both country-made as well as foreign liquor, and they seem to be minting quite some bucks! In fact just during the month of the Kumbh Mela (of 2016) liquor worth Rs. 66,00,000 was gulped down by the statue. This despite the imposition of a liquor ban by the state government in the rest of the district.
Although a close scientific inspection is nearly impossible due to the blind faith of followers as well as the reasons stated above (a multi-million rupee business), one possible explanation lies in a similar incident that took place in 1995. Back then, hundreds of idols of Lord Ganesha were thought to be drinking milk offered to them in what later turned out to be a case of confirmation bias along with the simple scientific phenomenon of Capillary action. More about that particular case can be read here – http://expressindia.indianexpress.com/news/fullstory.php?newsid=72699