No matter what the month is, India has always festivals around the corner. Great time to be in India in the month of September-October. These months are considered to be the peak pf festivities. One of the most important festivals of this time which is celebrated with great enthusiasm is the festival of Maha Durga Ashtami. The eighth day of Navratri days is known as the Maha Ashtami or Durga Ashtami. It is celebrated with many rituals and performances by many enthusiastic and happy devotees. Some people also call it ‘Astra Puja’ which means weapon worship. Weapons of Goddess Durga are worshipped on this day of Durga Ashtami. There are many names to Durga Ashtami and one of them is Virashtami. People call this day as Virashtami because Martial arts are displayed on this day of bravery. This day Maha Ashtami will fall on October 24th.
Maha Ashtami – Date, History, Importance & Celebration
The day starts with the Mahasnan and Shodashshopachar Puja. People install nine different pots and then perform some rituals which are believed to invoke and wake the nine Shaktis of Durga in the pots.
All the rituals performed on this day are very special and one of them is that young and unmarried girls are treated as Goddess Durga and they are worshipped as Goddess Durga. This ritual is known as Kumari Puja. While many people perform the ritual od Kumari Puja on all nine days, many prefer to choose just one day and do all the rituals of Kumani Puja. Generally, they choose Maha Ashtami and Mahab Navami for it. This ritual is also known as kanchak in many languages. However the Puja begins with washing and touching the feet of these nine young girls and then they are fed with sweets and food and are showered with presents such as Pencil box, chocolates, etc.
Another Puja that is performed on this day is Sandhi Puja which is performed only in the sacred holy time of Sandhi. The sandhi time starts when only 24 minutes are left from the day of Ashtami or the first 24 minutes od the Navami day.
It is believed that this Puja is to be the culminated point of Durga Ashtami and therefore this day holds a great significance and Importance. Some people also perform Bali or animal sacrifice. And many who do not believe in animal sacrifice complete the rituals with cutting vegetables.
Maha Ashtami Date
Maha Ashtami Date 2019: October 6
Maha Ashtami Date 2020: October 24
Maha Ashtami Date 2021: October 13
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People of Belur Math in West Bengal performs the rituals of animal sacrifice with vegetables such as bananas, cucumber and pumpkins, etc. instead of animals. Many people light lamps and Diya at the time of Sandhi. This day is considered to be the day of weapons and shakti. It is related to the fearlessness and shakti.