Bhishma Tharpanam is performed on Bhishma Ashtami by many communities in North and South India. Bhishma, the Kuruvamsa Pitamaha (the grandfather of Kauravas) of Mahabharata, is described as the Lord of the Lords by Lord Sri Krishna. In 2021, Bhishma Ashtami date is February 19.
Offering Tharpanam to Bhishma will make the devotee free from all his sins and makes him eligible for attainment of Moksha.
Bhishma Ashtami, the following day of Ratha Saptami, is the ideal day for Bhishma Tharpanam.
Legend of Bhishma’s birth..
Once the Ashtavasus visited Vashishta’s ashram accompanied by their wives. One of the wives took a fancy to Kamadhenu, Vashishta’s wish-bearing cow and asked her husband Prabhasa to steal it from Vashishta.
Prabhasa then stole the cow with the help of the others who were all consequently cursed by Vashishta to be born in the world of men. Upon the Vasus appealing to Vashishta’s mercy, the seven Vasus who had assisted in stealing Kamadhenu had their curse mitigated such that they would be liberated from their human birth as soon as they were born; however, Prabhasa being protagonist of the theft, was cursed to endure a longer life on the earth.
The curse, however is softened to the extent that he would be one of the most illustrious men of his time. It was this Prabhasa who took birth as Devavrata (Bhishma).
Bhishma is the one who revealed Vishnu Sahasranama Stotram for the first time to the world. On Bhishma Ekadashi day, Vishnu Sahasranama Jayanti is also observed.