New Delhi, Sept 27: Durga Ashtami is the eight day of the Navratri and Durga Puja celebrations that take place in India every year and celebrated with religious fervour. Durga Ashtami is also known as Mahashtami and is believed to be one of the crucial days of Durga Puja. Many people observe fast for seven regular days. This year Durga Ashtami will be celebrated on September 28.
Followers worship the weapons of Maa Durga on this day which is also known as Astra Puja. The day is also known as Virashtami as there are displays using arms or martial arts. It is one of the most important day for worshippers.
There is also a belief that Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Durga on this day to annihilate Chanda and Munda and Rakthabija. During the Durga Puja rituals on Mahashtami day the 64 Yoginis and Ashtanayikas – the eight consorts – of Durga are also worshipped.
The eight consorts of Durga, also known as Eight Shaktis, are interpreted differently in different regions of India. But ultimately all the eight goddesses are incarnations of Shakti with different aims. Sometimes they are also an attempt to give form to a particular aspect of Shakti.
The Ashtanayikas that are worshipped during Durga Puja are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kameswari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda.
Many other minor deities including many attendants and guards of Durga are worshipped on this day.
Durga devotees observe fast on Durga Ashtami. Both men and women observe the fast. Many temples perform special pujas on the day and are visited by millions of devotees.
Durga Ashtami ends with Sandhi puja, which overlaps into the next day which is also known as Mahanavami day.