MAHA ASHTAMI DURGA PUJA(DURGA ASHTAMI) 2021: Date, Muhurat Timing, Benefits of Durga Puja
What is Durga Ashtami?
Of all the Ashtamis, Durga Ashtami (13th October 2021, Wednesday) is the most auspicious, important, and providential one. It is also known as Maha Ashtami or Maha Ashtami Durga Puja and celebrated across India, by the Hindus in different styles. Durga is the chief deity or Shakti as per the philosophy of Shaktism and manifests in Her ten forms known as the Mahavidyas.
On this day of Durga Puja Ashtami, devotees worship Her as well as Her weapons therefore the day is also known as Astra Puja. In many parts of India, it is known as Vira Ashtami; ‘Vira’ means heroism. Goddess Durga displayed Her divine beauty to the celestials and inconceivable heroism while fighting the demons such as Mahishasura. Most devotees observe Durga Ashtami Vrat or fast on Durga Ashtami Puja day.
Considered the most auspicious of Navratri or 9 days of Durga Puja, the Durga Ashtami Puja holds significance. The Durga Ashtami story says that on this day, Goddess Kali appeared from the forehead of Mother Durga and crushed Chanda, Munda, and Raktabija, the servants of Mahishasura.
On this day devotees offer their reverence and worship to Sixty Four Yoginis and Ashta Nayikas (eight Shaktis or powers), which are said to have emerged from Goddess Durga. The Ashta Nayikas are eight incarnations of Shakti. These eight Shaktis are Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani, and Chamunda. They are all worshiped during the Maa Durga Ashtami Puja rituals and the day ends with performing the Sandhi Puja, Homam or Yajna by following the Durga Ashtami Havan Vidhi, which is an important ritual of this auspicious day.
Durga Ashtami Story
It is believed that Goddess Durga was created by the Divine Trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh to annihilate the notorious demon Mahishasura, who had terrorized the three Worlds. During the Sharad Navratri, the Devi Durga and Mahishasura were in a raging battle. The deceptive Mahisashura sent his subjects Raktabeeja, Chanda, and Munda. Goddess Durga manifested into Her most fierce form of Kali, to finish Rakthabeeja, Chanda, and Munda. During the battle, the ferocious demon Raktabeeja posed a challenge as every drop of his blood that fell on the ground gave birth to thousands of clones of the demon. Being the powerful Goddess that She is, Maa Kali put an end to Rakthabeeja by drinking all His blood and eliminating him. Chanda and Munda too were beheaded by Her.
Durga Ashtami Puja Vidhi
On this important day, Durga Ashtami Pooja is performed in order to please Goddess Durga. In this puja, nine Earthen pots are placed in the center and worshipped. The ritual is said to invoke the nine Shaktis of Durga. A fast, Durga Ashtami Vrat, is observed by devotees, the Sandhi Puja signals the end of Ashtami tithi and the beginning of Navami.
After the morning bath during the Brahmamurat (4 AM – 6 AM), one should wear clean clothes.
A picture or an idol of Goddess Durga should be set up in the Puja Alter. A red-colored ‘Dupatta’(Chunri) or Saree should be offered to the deity along with Durga Saptshati book, Holy Ganga water in a Kalash, Mango leaves to be put on top of the Pot containing Holy water, Roli, Mauli (Sacred Thread), fresh Grass, Sandalwood paste, Coconut, Rice grains, Supari (Betel Nuts), Betel leaves, Green Cloves, Cardamom, Kumkum (Vermillion) and Gulal. (More about these items in Puja Kit)
After that, pray to Goddess Durga, light Ghee Lamp, Dhoop, Roli, Kumkum, Fresh Flowers, Rice grains.
Offer Durga Ashtami Naivedyam of Halwa Puri and Chana to the Goddess along with Sweets and Fruits if you want to offer. After this take some flowers in hand and chant:
Sarva-Manggala-Maanggalye Shive Sarvaartha-Saadhike | Sharannye Tryambake Gauri Naaraayanni Namo stu Te ||
Meaning: Obeisance to You O Narayani Who is the Auspiciousness in All the Auspicious, Auspiciousness Herself, Complete with All the Auspicious Attributes, and Who fulfills All the Objectives of the Devotees (Purusharthas - Dharma, Artha, Kama, and Moksha), Who is the Giver of Refuge, With Three Eyes and a Shining Face; Salutations to You O Narayani.”
After reciting the Mantra, offer the Flowers. In the end, recite ‘Durga Chalisa' followed by Durga Aarti.
Traditionally, a group of young, female children (five, seven, nine, and eleven) and a boy below seven are invited into the home. Devotee Householders honor them by washing their feet, worshiping them, and feed them with sweets and other prasadam of Goddess Durga. This is mostly followed in the Northern part of India.
Why do they feed nine girls?
After fasting during the festival time, young girls, usually nine in number and a boy are invited to the devotee's house, where their feet are washed and fed with blessed food Ashtami bhog or Prasadam which was offered to the Divine Mother as Durga Ashtami Naivedyam. The Ashtami bhog includes Puri, Chanaa and Halwa, Khichdi, Papad, Kheer or Payesh, Chutney, and Rasgulla. The food is completely vegetarian and prepared without Onion and Garlic. Each of these young girls called Kanjaks epitomizes the Shakti (energy) of Durga on Earth, and also represents the nine forms of Devi Durga. After feeding the young girls and the boy and presenting them with gifts and Dakshina, the devotees break their fast. It is said that Goddess Durga is pleased when these children are honored and fed.
Durga idols of Panchdhatu can be installed for worship. Panchdhatu, as per Shilpa Shastra, is an alloy of gold (Au), silver (Ag), copper (Cu), Brass, and lead (Pb) as the major constituents. It is believed these metals attract cosmic energies during worship.
One can also wear a Durga locket for protectionWearing Durga Bracelet keeps the wearer off all the negative energies including black magic.Durga Yantra when installed at home or office neutralizes the atmosphere.
How to keep Durga Ashtami Fast
Observing Durga Ashtami Vrat is done to gain the blessings of Goddess Durga. Some devotees choose to keep dry fast by abstaining from the consumption of food and water throughout the day. The choice of what kind of Vrat is observed is upon the devotee. Some observe the Durga Ashtami Vrat on a water and Milk diet. Rice, lentils, wheat are not to be consumed on this day. Non-vegetarian food and alcohol are strictly avoided on this day.
After having a bath in the morning, take a Sankalpa by invoking Goddess Durga of keeping the fast with devotion. Pray, worship, and meditate on the power of Maa Durga on this day. Many choose to sleep on the floor with the thought of not indulging in any luxury for a day. The fast on this day is also beneficial for spiritual attainments.
Benefits of Durga Ashtami Puja
On the auspicious day of Maha Ashtami Durga Puja, devotees generally observe the Durga Ashtami Vrat and perform the meritorious Durga Ashtami Puja by following the rules meticulously. The benefits of Durga Puja Maha Ashtami worship gives the invincible all-round protection of Devi Durga, courage, power, strength, victory in all ventures, prosperity, wealth, name, fame, good health, heals diseases, aids spiritual growth, fulfills desires of the devotees and brings abundant blessings of the Goddess Durga. Couples who are desirous to have a child but are unable to conceive again from performing the Durga Ashtami Puja.
Spiritual Items associated with Durga Ashtami
Durga idols of Panchdhatu can be installed for worship. Panchdhatu, as per Shilpa Shastra, is an alloy of gold (Au), silver (Ag), copper (Cu), Brass and lead (Pb) as the major constituent. It is believed these metals attract cosmic energies during worship. Buy Now
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Durga Puja and Yajna on this day is highly recommended. Goddess Durga is worshipped for courage, success and prosperity. She symbolizes strength, morality and protection. Benefits include protection and relief from diseases, attraction of suitable outcomes, self-confidence and courage and blessing of Durga. Buy Now
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