- Today is Navratri Maha Ashtami
- Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped on Navratri Maha Ashtami
- On Durga Ashtami, many devotees observe day-long fast
Today is Durga Ashtami or Navratri Maha Ashtami. A most auspicious day of nine-day Chaitra Navratri, Goddess Mahagauri is worshipped onNavratri Maha Ashtami. Devotees believe that praying to Mahagauri helps them overcome all obstacles. The auspicious time for Navratri Maha Ashtami puja is 11:54 AM to 12.46 PM (Abhijit Muhurta), 2:30 PM to 3:22 PM (Vijaya Muhurta) 6:37 PM to 7:01 PM (Godhuli Muhurta). According to legends, Goddess Kali appeared on this day from the forehead of Maa Durga and killed Chanda, Munda, and Rakthabija, the asuras or demons who were with Mahishasura. The eight consorts of Goddess Durga - Brahmani, Maheswari, Kaumari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Narasinghi, Indrani and Chamunda - are worshipped on Maha Ashtami.
Navratri Maha Ashtami or Durga Ashtami Puja Vidhi
Mantra: Om Devi Mahagauryai Namah
Shwete Vrishesamarudha Shwetambaradhara Shuchih
Mahagauri Shubham Dadyanmahadeva Pramodada
Ya Devi Sarvabhuteshu Maa Mahagauri Rupena Samsthita
Namastasyai Namastasyai Namastasyai Namo Namah
There are various puja rituals on Navratri Maha Ashtami. Families mostly in the northern part of the country hold Kanjak, Kanya Puja or Kanya Bhoj on Ashtami. Nine little girls - between five and nine years old - are invited and served a special meal of puri, kala chana and halwa.
According to legends, the nine little girls symbolize the avatars of Goddess Durga. During Kanya Puja, the girls are seated near an idol or a photo of the goddess, their feet are washed and a red thread is tied on their wrist with best wishes. A red bindi or kumkum tika is put on their forehead. The girls are given decorated plates with food, coin and small gifts. This year amid the coronavirus pandemic, it's best to wish them on virtual chat platforms and also send the gifts via online shopping sites.