October 22 marks the eighth day or the all-important Ashtami of the nine-days-long Navratri 2023 festival, and is dedicated to the worship of Devi Mahagauri. Many also perform Kanjak Puja or Kanya Puja on this day. Here is everything you need to know about the significance of worshipping Devi Mahagauri on Ashtami, the rituals to follow and more.
Navratri 2023 is one of the major Hindu festivals of the year and is celebrated with great festive spirit across India. The nine-days-long Sharadiya Navratri 2023 began on October 15 and will continue till October 23, followed by massive Vijaya Dashami and Dussehra celebrations on October 24. Each day of the Navratri 2023 festivities is dedicated to the worship of a particular form of Maa Durga, and on Ashtami or the eighth day, Devi Mahagauri is worshipped.
Considered to be one of the most important days of Navratri 2023, Ashtami will be celebrated on October 22 this year. Devotees not only worship Devi Mahagauri on this day, but also begin the day with a purifying Mahasnan and then don new clothes marked with turmeric. Many people across the country also perform Kanya Puja or Kanjak on Ashtami by hosting nine you girls into their homes who are considered to be the physical manifestations of Maa Durga.
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Here is everything you need to know about Ashtami Puja, the significance of worshipping Devi Mahagauri and performing Kanjak Puja, and the rituals involved.
Devi Mahagauri, The Supreme Goddess
Ashtami during Navratri 2023 is dedicated to the worship of Devi Mahagauri, who is known as the remover of suffering. Worshipping this goddess on Ashtami, according to Hindu scriptures, helps bestow devotees with wealth and opulence too. This is the reason why fasting on Ashtami holds special significance around the nation, whether you are celebrating in North India, Gujarat or the Eastern Indian states where Durga Puja 2023 is celebrated.
Hindu mythology says that Devi Mahagauri is known for her fair complexion, beauty and manifests with four arms and dressed in white clothes. It is believed that Devi Shailputri, when she turned sixteen, came to be known as a symbol of purity, serenity and beauty and was thus named Devi Mahagauri by the gods and devotees alike. Devi Mahagauri mounts a bull as her main vaahan and is often compared to the conch, the moon and the white-hued Kunda flower.
Rituals For The Worship Of Devi Mahagauri On Ashtami
On Ashtami, devotees are expected to take a bath early in the morning, don new clothes and keep a fast in the honour of Devi Mahagauri. For those performing Kanjak or Kanya Puja, inviting nine unmarried young girls home is essential. These girls are worshipped as manifestations of the nine forms of Maa Durga and devotees are expected to perform rituals like washing their feet, putting tilak on their foreheads, tying a holy thread on their wrists and offering them a platter of Prasad consisting of Kala Chana, Halwa and Puri.
In many parts of India, devotees also perform Astra Puja on Ashtami to signify the importance of Maa Durga’s weapons as symbols of female strength and the ultimate defeat of the demon Mahishasura. In Bengal and the Eastern Indian states, Ashtami is the day when a Mahabhog of Khichuri, Labra, Beguni, Chutney and sweets is offered to all attending Durga Puja. Sandhi Puja is also performed on the night of Ashtami to welcome the coming of Navami, which is the final day of Navratri 2023.
As for the offerings given to Devi Mahagauri on this day, it is believed that coconuts are beloved by her. So, offering coconuts to the deity and then to Brahmins on Ashtami is believed to welcome prosperity. While white is the colour that Devi Mahagauri dons in her manifestations, it is believed that she prefers her devotees dressed in peacock green to symbolise uniqueness, compassion and freshness. So, devotees worshiping Devi Mahagauri on Ashtami should wear shades of green or particularly peacock green.