Durga Puja celebrations run parallel with Navratri, a Hindu festival where nine forms of Goddess Durga are worshipped. For Durga Puja celebrations, huge pandals with idols of Goddess Durga are set-up and devotees come in large numbers to offer prayers to the goddess. The eight day of Navratri is called Ashtami, and this year Ashtami or Durga Ashtami falls on October 6.
Maha Ashtami is the most important day of Durga Puja festival. The day begins with pushpanjali and aarti in Durga Puja pandals. In many households, Ashtami is celebrated with much fervour. There are many who do Kumari Puja. However, the day's highlight is the sandhi puja, which is done when the Ashtami tithi ends. It is believed that during this time, Devi Chamunda (an avatar of Goddess Durga) appears to slay demons -- Chanda and Munda.
It is performed depending on the puja muhurat. It is believed that on this day Goddess opens her third eye and showers blessings on her devotees.
Ashtami Puja date and time:
Ashtami Date: October 6
Ashtami Tithi Begins - 09:51 am on Oct 06, 2019
Ashtami Tithi Ends - 10:54 AM on Oct 06, 2019
Sandhi Puja Muhurat - 10:30 AM to 11:18 AM (Source: Drikpanchang.com)
What is done during Sandhi Puja?
One hundred and eight earthen lamps are lit during the Sandhi time; moreover, the Goddess is offered 108 lotus flowers and bilwa leaves. The puja is meant as an ode to Goddess Kali, who appeared out of Goddess Durga's third eye on her forehead when she saw Mahishasura breaching the rules of the battle.