Maha Navami & Durga Ashtami

On 24th October 2020, Hindus will be celebrating its most popular festivals- Durga Ashtmi and Maha Navmi pooja. Usually, Maha Navami pooja is celebrated on the next day of Durga Ashtami. However, this year, the two festivals are occurring on the same day. “Ashtami” and “Navmi” mean the eighth and the ninth day of Navratri that is dedicated to Godess Durga.

How Is It Celebrated?

‘Maha Navmi’ pooja is considered to hold so much value that the worship on this day is equivalent to all the nine days of  ‘Navratri’. Traditionally every state in India has different and unique ways to celebrate the festival but what remains common is the worship of the mighty Goddess Durga.

In Northern India, Maha Navmi is celebrated by conducting ‘Kanya Puja’. In this ritual, nine girls are invited over, worshipped and fed with a holy meal. The belief behind this is that the nine girls are a manifestation of the nine faces of Goddess Durga. Along with the nine girls, a boy is also worshipped who is a manifestation of Lord Bhairav, the brother of Goddess Durga who promises to protect her as per a tale.

In South India, this festival is celebrated as ‘Ayudh Puja’ or ‘Shastra Puja’ and is dedicated to Goddess Saraswati. On this day all the instruments of knowledge and wisdom are worshipped, like books, musical instruments and vehicles. In ancient times, this day was considered auspicious to worship weapons.

In Eastern India, this festival is celebrated as the third day of Durga Puja because in this area, a smaller version of the Durga festival is observed. The celebration starts with ‘Mahasnan’ (holy bath) followed by ‘Shodashopachar’ Puja.

In ‘Western India’, ‘Maha Navami’ is celebrated by installing a ‘Garbo’, a holy pot, which is symbolic of the womb. The Garbo is lighted with divas which are symbolic of the soul. Garba is a very popular dance form in this region commemorated to Goddess Durga.

The History

According to ancient history, on the Maha Navami, Goddess Durga defeated the Buffalo demon, Mahishasura. On the day of Maha Navami, Goddess Durga made the final attack on the Buffalo demon and succeeded in killing him the next morning which is celebrated as ‘Vijayadashmi’ or ‘Dussehra’. That is why on this day, Goddess Durga is revered as ‘Mahisasuramardini’ which translates into ‘the slayer of Mahishasura’.

Ref: she the people

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