Maha Ashtami, also known as Ashtami and Durgashtami, falls on Monday, October 3 this year. It is one of the most important days during the auspicious festivals of Navratri and Durga Puja. They are dedicated to Maa Durga and her nine avatars (Navdurgas). Devotees worship the Goddess and her nine forms, honouring the victory of good over evil. During Ashtami, people worship Maa Mahagauri and perform various rituals, including Kanjak or Kanya Puja, Sandhi Puja, Mahasnan, and more. Read along to know more details.
Who is Maa Mahagauri?
Hindu mythology says that Goddess Shailputri, at the age of sixteen, was extremely beautiful and blessed with a fair complexion. Therefore, she came to be known as Goddess Mahagauri because of her fair skin. Like Maa Shailputri, she mounts a bull, and because of that, she is called Vrisharudha. She has four hands - while one hand on the right side carries a Trishul and the other stays in Abhaya Mudra, she holds a Damaru in one left hand and keeps the other in Varada Mudra. The Goddess is often compared with a conch, the moon and the white flower of Kunda because she has a fair complexion. She is also known as Shwetambardhara, as she always wears white clothes. She symbolizes purity, serenity and tranquility
Navratri Day 8 Significance:
The eighth day of Navratri or the third day of Durga Puja, Maha Ashtami, celebrates Maa Durga's victory over the buffalo demon Mahishasura. People worship Maa Mahagauri on this day, who is known for bestowing her devotees with wealth and an opulent lifestyle, and removing all their sufferings. Praying to Maa Durga during Ashtami can help rid one of all their problems and sins. Ashtami fast also holds significance as it brings prosperity and luck.
In some parts of India, people also perform Astra Puja during Ashtami. Many devotees consider it an auspicious day to pray to their tools. Additionally, Maa Durga's weapons are worshipped as symbols of female strength.
Navratri Day 8 Timings:
Maha Ashtami will be observed on October 3 this year. Drik Panchang says the Ashtami Tithi will begin at 06:47 pm on October 2 and end at 04:37 pm on October 3. The timings for Sandhi Puja will last from 04:13 pm to 05:01 pm. While the Brahma Muhurta is from 04:38 am to 05:26 am, the Abhijit Muhurat is from 11:46 am to 12:34 pm.
Ashtami Tithi or Mahashtami Vrat is observed on the eighth day of Navratri. Devotees worship Goddess Mahagauri, the eighth manifestation of Navdurga on the eighth days of Navratri. It is believed that at the age of 16, Goddess Shailputri was incredibly attractive and had a fair complexion. She came to know as Goddess Mahagauri because of her light skin tone.
As per scriptures, Goddess Durga was created by Tri Murti that is Lord Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. The soul of Goddess Durga came into existence on the day of Shukla Paksha Ashtami. On the occasion, devotees worship the Goddess and observe a day-long fast or vrat in order to seek her divine protection, prosperity, success, happiness, and peace.
The Durga Ashtami will begin at 06:47 PM on October 02 and will end at 04:37 PM on October 03. The timings for Sandhi Puja are from 04:13 PM to 05:01 PM.
If you want to do Saraswati Pradhan Puja, the timing for Purva Ashadha Puja Muhurat is from 07:31 AM to 01:09 PM on October 03.
Durga Ashtami rituals:
Devotees wake up early in the morning and worship Goddess Durga by offering her flowers, Chandan (sandalwood paste), dhoop, kumkuma, fruits, etc. Devotees also chant various Devi mantras on this day. Both men and women celebrate this eve and read the Durga Ashtami Vrat Katha and Durga Chalisa.
O this day, Kanya Puja is also done by devotees. It is a special day for people who keep Navratri fast and then break it by feeding young girls with the traditional bhog - halwa-puri and chane. According to Devi Bhagwat Puran, it is believed that the young girls worshipped on this day are the forms of Goddess Durga. It is for the same reason that 9 girls along with 1 boy (called Langur) are worshipped and treated with good food, which is also known as Kanjak Puja or Kanya Pujan.