By Swami Harshananda
When a person reaches the age of 77 years, 7 months and 7 days, that particular night is called ‘Bhīmarathī’ since it is said to be terrible (bhīma = terrible) and difficult to survive. The rite to be performed to offset its effects is called ‘Bhīmaratha-śānti,’ or ‘Bhimarathī-śānti’.
It may be performed on the completion of the seventieth year itself. The objective to perform this rite is to protect one's life and also the lives and properties of all his children and grandchildren.
The rite involves several acts like:
- Kalaśasthāpana - Ceremonially establishing the holy water pot.
- Worship of deities like Bhima-mṛtyuñjaya, Durgā, Gaṇapati,qaaa Viṣṇu and the Navagrahas (the nine planets) also.
- Chanting of Vedic hymns like the Rudra, the Camaka, the Śrisukta, the Bhusukta.
- Performing homas (offering oblations into duly consecrated fires), the main homa being the Mṛtyuñjaya-homa with the well-known hymn, ‘tryambakam yajāmahe’.
- An abhiṣeka (ceremonial sprinkling of consecrated waters) to the Yajamāna, the performer.
- Offering gifts to the prescribed persons and get the blessings of the priests and the other brāhmaṇas involved in the rite.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore