Durga Ashtami - Significance And Celebrations
Durga Ashtami holds immense religious significance in Hindu culture.
Durgashtami comes every month on the Ashtami tithi of Shukla Paksha. This is why this day is often termed as Maas Durgashtami or Masik Durgashtami. However, Durga Ashtami during Navratri, especially Chaitra Navratri and Shardiya Navratri are considered the most auspicious days. Durga Ashtami during Shardiya Navratri is also known as Maha Ashtami owing to the significance of this day in Hindu religion.
Durga Ashtami: The Eighth Day
Durga Ashtami is celebrated and rejoiced with great zeal and fervor primarily in the regions of West Bengal. The ten-armed deity who rides a lion is worshipped in almost all the parts of the nation and even the weapons of Maa Durga are also worshipped while performing Astra Puja or Ayudha Puja.
Durga Ashtami represents the eighth day of the Navratri festival and devotees observe a fast on this auspicious day in order to worship and pay reverence to Goddess Durga. Massive idols of the deity are installed at various places namely pandals, homes, offices. A huge number of devotees visit the pandals and offer their prayers and worship Goddess Durga.
Significance of Durga Ashtami
Durga Ashtami, as the name suggests, is dedicated to Goddess Durga. The importance of this festival is immense in Hinduism. It is believed that on this day, Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Maa Durga to annihilate the evil demons namely Chanda and Munda. Devotees observe a day-long fast on this day to seek blessings of Goddess Durga. It is believed that the one who performs Durga Ashtami Vrat with utmost dedication and devotion is bestowed with good fortune, success, and happiness.
‘Astra Puja’ is also performed on this day in which the devotees worship weapons of Goddess Durga. This day is also known as Vira Ashtami.
Durga Ashtami Vrat Rituals
- On the festival of Durga Ashtami, devotees offer flowers, scent, and sandalwood to the idol of Maa Durga in the wee hours of the morning.
- Kumari Puja, i.e. puja of 9 unmarried girls aged between 6-12, is also an important aspect of this festival. These girls are considered as forms of Goddess Durga and are worshipped on this day.
- While observing Durgashtami Vrat, devotees abstain from eating throughout the day.
- Durgashtami Puja is done amidst the chant of several mantras dedicated to the Goddess and recital of Durga Chalisa. Durga Ashtami Vrat Katha is also read and recited while worshipping Maa Durga. Another important aspect of this day is offering Dakshina to priests.
Kanya Pujan on Ashtami
Navmi and Ashtami are regarded as two auspicious days for celebrating the essence of womanhood. On the eve of Durga Ashtami, the ritual of Kanya Pujan is performed across various parts of India.
During Kanya Pujan, young girls are worshipped and are offered with various dishes including chickpeas, Halwa and Puri. The feet of these young girls are also washed and cleaned as a ritual to show respect to Goddess Durga. Tilak is applied on the forehead of the young girls and they are given gifts, as well. Then, everyone especially women touch the feet of this girls as they are revered as the manifestation of Goddess Durga and her forms.