Durga Ashtami 2017


The ten-day long Navratri or Durga celebration is known as Durgashtami or Durga Ashtami. The festival is also known as Mahashtami and is believed to be one of the most propitious days in Hindu mythology. The 64 Yoginis and Ashta Nayikas (the eight consorts of Goddess Durga ) are worshipped during the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami. The Ashta Nayikas(Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda) also known as Eight Shaktis, are inferred differently in different regions of India. But all the eight powerful and divine goddesses are incarnations of Shakti. This year Durga Ashtami will be celebrated on 28th September.


Significance


The festival is much more than puja and fasting, it is about the conquest of goodness over all the wicked entities. Goddess Durga is the almighty liberator for all her devotees. Celebrating this festival helps in socializing and reunions after a long span of time.


Rituals


·       The main feature of this festival is to invite the young unmarried girls into the home so as to honour them. The should be welcomed by washing their feet followed by Alati and Puja later they should be fed with delicacies like ‘Puri and Halwa’ and then honoured with small gifts. This worship of little girls is known as ‘Kumari Puja’.


·       In the evening Sandhi Puja should be conducted which is marked as the inter-linking of the Maha Ashtami with Maha Navami.


·       Observing fast is believed to be very fortunate on this day.


Sandhi time is considered the most auspicious time during whole Durga Puja. It is considered to be the peak point. It is customary to perform ‘Balidan’ or animal sacrifice at this blessed occasion. Devotees who abstain from animal sacrifice perform symbolic Bali with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin. Scriptures prohibit any type of animal sacrifice. Therefore, Brahmin community performs only symbolic Bali. It is customary to light 108 earthen lamps during Sandhi Kaal.


 


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