Ashtami or Durga Ashtami is the eighth day of the 9-day Navratri or Durgotsav festival celebrated across different parts of India. It is commemorated on the Ashtami tithi of the Shukla Paksha (bright lunar fortnight) on the Hindu calendar. On this day, Hindu devotees worship Mahagauri. Ashtami is deemed an auspicious day by the Hindu community and is celebrated with immense zeal. The day is attributed to Goddess Shakti, an avatar of Durga who is symbolic of eternal power and the victory of ‘good’ over the ‘evil’.
The eight forms of Maa Durga are worshipped on this day. It is believed that eight forms of Maa Durga emerged from her and these eight Shaktis are – Bhahamni, Maheshwari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Nasinghi, Indrani and Chamundi. According to Hindu mythology, Goddess Durga is the mother of the universe and is believed to be the power behind the creation, preservation and destruction of the universe. The Hindu warrior Goddess Durga is portrayed as a divine woman with ten arms bearing divine weapons to protect each of us.

Goddess kali culminated from the forehead of Devi Durga on this day and killed Mahishasur — the king of Demons and his associates — Chanda and Munda. On this day, Maa Durga annihilated Bhairo Nath, an evil ‘tantric’ in the form of Vaishno Devi. This incident led to the history of the pilgrimage of Vaishno Devi, and it is said that the famous Bhairo Nath temple lies at the site where the head of Bhairo Nath fell after being chucked off by the Goddess.
On this day, all the weapons used for killing Mahishasur by Goddess Durga are worshipped. This ritual is known as Astra puja.
Goddess Durga is worshipped by establishing a ‘ghat’ in front, red sandalwood paste, fruits, flowers, sweets, betel leaves, cardamom and coins are distributed among the kin. On this day, the deity is worshipped as Goddess Gauri. To observe this, nine little girls are worshipped, their feet are washed, and they are offered halwa (a sweet dish made of semolina, milk, ghee and nuts), puri and kheer as a part of the ritual. Durgashtami ends with the sandhi puja that ushers the next day, Mahanavami.
It is believed that people who observe a staunch fast on this day to please Mother Durga are always taken care of by her benevolence, and such people are always free of delusions of any kind in life.

May Goddess Durga give you massive strength to overcome all the obstacles in life. Evergreen Publications wishes you all a very Happy Durga Ashtami.

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