Hindus Observe Maha Astami On Eighth Day Of Bada Dashain

Special Durgapuja (worship) and prayer ceremonies are held at the Dashain Ghars. The weapons, vehicles and machines are also worshipped on this day

Oct. 17, 2018, 6:44 p.m.

Devotees throng various shrines of the Goddess in Kathmandu Valley and throughout the country from early morning offering prayers and sacrificing goats and ducks. Five different animals — Goat, buffalo, chicken, pig and duck — are sacrificed on the occasion.

Special Durgapuja (worship) and prayer ceremonies are held at the Dashain Ghars. The weapons, vehicles and machines are also worshipped on this day.

People who do not sacrifice animals offer sacrifices of various vegetables and fruits in substitution. Moreover, a special Kalaratri worship is held at midnight at the Dashain Ghar of Hanumandhoka in the capital city.

Hindus throughout the country observed the eighth day of the 10-day Bada Dashain festival as Maha Astami by Worshipping Goddess Durga Bhawani.

On this day, people also worship the Goddesses Mahakali, Mahalaxmi and Maha Saraswati. Maha Astami is considered special as the Goddess Durga attained power on this day.

On the occasion, people perform religious rituals at the Dashain Ghars and armouries and offer prayers and sacrifices of different animals to the goddess at various shrines. People also read the Durga Saptashati scriptures.

The Hindus all over the world celebrated Sharad Navratri 2018. Sharad Navratri and Chaitra Navratri are two Navratris that are celebrated widely by devotees of Goddess Shakti.

The nine day festival holds immense importance for Hindus across the world. During these nine auspicious days, devotees pray to nine incarnations of Goddess Durga called Navdurga. Each day of Navratri is dedicated to one form of the Goddess. All nine days, devotees wake up early, have a bath and pray to Goddess with multiple offerings like milk, sugar and fruits. The eight day of Navratri is called Ashtami, and this year Ashtami or Durga Ashtami falls on 17th October 2018. Read to know how Ashtami is celebrated across the country. The colour of Navratri Day 8 is sky blue.

Durga Ashtami 2018 or Mahashtami Significance

In many parts of the India, Hindu households hold 'Kanjak' or Kanya Puja. Nine girls are welcomed into the house by first washing their feet and then tying moli (red thread) around their wrists. These girls are seated in a line and served a delicious bhog of halwa, poori and chole. They are also given gifts like pencils, tiffin boxes and hairclips. These young girls who have not hit puberty yet are seen as embodiment of Goddess Durga herself. Some observe the ritual of Kanjak on Navami or the ninth day of Navratri too.

For Bengalis, Ashtami or Durga Ashtami is considered to be the most important day of Durga Puja. People dress up in new clothes and hit the pandals early in the morning for pushpanjali. Durga Puja on Maha Ashtami begins with Mahasnaan of the idol. This is followed by the Shodashopachar Puja. In this puja, nine earthern pots are placed in the centre and worshipped. The ritual is said to invoke the nine shaktis of Durga. In afternoons, devotees gather for special 'Ashtami Bhog'. Ashtami bhog usually differs from the bhog on rest of the Pujo days. Instead of khichdi, mixed vegetables and payesh(kheer), pandals usually serve rice, chana dal, a curry of paneer, mixed vegetables, begun bhaja(eggplant fritters), tomato chutney, papad, rajbhog and the ever-so-delectable payesh.

On the day of Ashtami, special pujas like 'Astra Puja' and 'Sandhi Puja' also take place in Puja pandals. As part of Astra Puja, Goddess Durga's weapons with which she defeated the buffalo demon Mahishasura are worshipped with much fervour. It is said that it was on the day of Ashtami, after a long drawn battle between Goddess Durga and Mahishasura, Goddess Kali appeared from Durga's forehead to annihilate Mahishasura's demons - Chando, Munda and Rakthabija. Therefore on this day, Ashta Nayikas, or the eight forms or incarnations of shakti are worshipped in the form of all encompassing Goddess Durga.

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