Maha Ashtami, which is also known as Durgashtami is considered as one of the most crucial day in the entire span of tem days. The rituals start from early in the morning and continues till late in the evening. Not only purohits play a major role, but also common people participate in the puja as well. Teenagers and youngsters keep the most beautiful dress to wear in this particular day. This can be seen in various parts of India like Jharkhand, Bengal, Orissa and various other parts. It is believed that the idol gets livelier in this day by the priests as they perform rituals with complete devotion.
The priests starts the rituals from early in the morning of Maha Ashtami by Pushpanjali. Devotees come in order to take part in the ritual. Normally it is performed by the devotees with full devotion and as a result people baths and keep fasts unless they perform the puchpanjali. Here the purohit recites the Sanskrit mantras and the devotees follows the priest by repeating it. Before the mantra is being recited, fresh flowers are being distributed and after each and every mantra, it is being showered to the goddess feet and then prayers are made.
The prime attraction of this special day is the “Kumari Puja”. Kamari means Young and Puja means worship. A young girl within 12 – 13years of age are being worshipped by considering her as a representation of Maa Durga.
Yoginis which means the companions of Maa Durga are also worshipped on this particular day. The nine expression of the deity- Mangola Kali, Kapalini, Bhadra Kali, Jayanti, Durga, Siva, Svadha, Kshama Dhatri and Svaha are worshiped with devotion.
Later in the evening starts the Aarati that is being executed with fire. The reason behind the fire is it is a symbol of purifier of sins and putting an end to darkness with its light. Sandhi puja is another major part of Mahashtami that also interlinks Masashtami with Maha Navami. It is believed that the 48minutes, when the Ashtami Tithi changes to Navami, is highly blessed. During this time, Devi Durga is being worshipped as “Chamunda” which is a form of aggressive and destructive power.
Both rituals and celebration marks the auspicious day- Maha Ashtami. People enjoys the day by wearing the most beautiful dress and by performing the rituals with devotion.