Durga Ashtami in 2024
What is Durga Ashtami?
Mahashtami, also known as Maha Durgashtami, is second day of Durga Puja. Maha Ashtami is one of the most important days of Durga Puja. Durga Puja on Maha Ashtami begins with Mahasnan and Shodashopachar Puja (षोडशोपचार पूजा) which is very much similar to Maha Saptami Puja except Prana Pratishtha (प्राण प्रतिष्ठा) which is done only once on Maha Saptami.
On Maha Ashtami nine small pots are installed and nine Shaktis of Durga are invoked in them. All nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped during Maha Ashtami Puja.
Young unmarried girls, being treated as Goddess Durga itself, are also worshipped on Maha Ashtami. Worshipping of young girls during Durga Puja is known as Kumari Puja. In many regions Durga Navratri. Kumari Puja on a single day during Durga Puja is preferred on Maha Ashtami.
The legendary Sandhi Puja is also falls on Maha Ashtami. The time window of the last 24 minutes of Ashtami Tithi and the first 24 minutes of Navami Tithi is known as Sandhi Time or the holy juncture during Durga Puja. Sandhi time is considered the most auspicious time during whole Durga Puja. Sandhi Puja is the culmination point and the most important ritual of Durga Puja. It is customary to perform Balidan or animal sacrifice at this sacred juncture. Devotees who abstain from animal sacrifice perform symbolic Bali with vegetables like banana, cucumber or pumpkin. For Brahmins any type of animal sacrifice is prohibited by scriptures and Brahmin community does only symbolic Bali. Even the famous Belur Math in West Bengal does symbolic Bali with banana during Sandhi Puja. It is customary to light 108 earthen lamps during Sandhi Kaal.
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